Skip to main content

Full text of "The little angel, and other stories;"

See other formats


THE LIBRARY 

OF 

THE UNIVERSITY 
OF CALIFORNIA 

LOS ANGELES 



THE LITTLE ANGEL 



THE 

LITTLE ANGEL 

AND OTHER STORIES 



TRANSLATED FROM 
THE RUSSIAN OF 

L. N. ANDREYEV 

BY 

W. H. LOWE 




ALFRED A. KNOPF 
NEW YORK MCMXVI 



College 
Library 



PREFACE 

LEONID NIKOLAIVICH ANDREYEV was born 
in Orel in 1871. After his father's death he 
was thrown upon his own resources, but 
managed to study at both Petrograd and 
Moscow Universities, graduating in Law in 
1897. During this period he endured great 
hardship often even actual hunger and was 
the victim of deep melancholia. His first 
writings were unsuccessful ; and, for a time, 
he devoted himself to painting. Later he 
came into touch with the Russian press as 
police-court reporter for a leading newspaper. 
Then Silence was published, and brought 
him immediate recognition. This terrible 
story may serve as an example of his method. 
The silence of the frightened girl, dying with 
her secret, and of her mother, stricken, through 
shock, with paralysis, crushes the pride of 



1158667 



6 PREFACE 

the priest whose training has so stiffened his 
nature that he cannot express or welcome 
affection. He cries for help ; he entreats 
them to show him pity. His daughter lies 
dead ; his wife motionless. An abstract idea 
is the germ of each tale ; around it are woven 
both characters and incident a process which 
is in marked contrast to the work of his con- 
temporary Maxim Gorky whose people with 
their actions come directly from life mostly, 
indeed, from his own personal experiences. 
Sometimes the double note is tragic ; oftener, 
the abstract idea redeems the gloom or hor- 
ror of the actual tale, as in The Little Angel 
and In the Basement, for, while the stories 
of Andreyev are tinged with more than even 
the ordinary tone of sadness of the Russian 
writer, there seems to be in his mind a bal- 
ancing, a search for some kind of compensa- 
tion, as though he would say, ' No man is 
wholly good or wholly bad.' Perhaps it is 
the weakness of a method by which his char- 
acters become the puppets however real 
illustrating an idea ; perhaps it is the strength 



PREFACE 7 

of the author's vision, that makes his people 
sometimes morbid and unhealthy. They are 
driven by a relentless creator, as hi Mase- 
field's Nan, to their destiny. Nevertheless, 
the beauty of his style, the clear imagination, 
and the perfect form of his stories come not 
only from an artist but from a philosopher 
and poet. His work is not for babes. Deep 
truths are presented not more realistically in 
the anomalies and terrors of life than in the 
symbolism of his short stories and, in its 
more elaborate form, of his plays. Touches 
of tenderness, beauty, and sympathetic in- 
sight are found on every page side by side 
with brutality and coarseness, for Andreyev 
draws Life without hiding, without shirking. 
But, beyond and behind, his mind is working 
ceaselessly, struggling to co-ordinate the 
whole. 

His works comprise a large number of 
stories, including beside the present collection 
Judas Iscariot, The Red Laugh, The Seven 
Who were Hanged, and some powerful studies 
in madness ; and of plays most of which 



8 PREFACE 

are performed uppn the Russian, though, not 
yet upon the English, stage. Among the 
latter are The Life of Man, Anathema, The 
Black Maskers, The Sabine Women, and The 
Tragedy of, Belgium. 



CONTENTS 

PAGE 

PREFACE . 5 

V 

THE LITTLE ANGEL n 

AT THE ROADSIDE STATION .... 39 

SNAPPER 49 

THE LIE 65 

AN ORIGINAL 83 



PETKA AT THE BUNGALOW . . . . 101 

9 



io CONTENTS 

PAGE 

SILENCE .... I2 i 



LAUGHTER 



149 



THE FRIEND 161 

IN THE BASEMENT 

THE CITY 

THE MARSEILLAISE 211 

THE TOCSIN 217 

BARGAMOT AND GARASKA .... 231 

STEPPING-STONES 249 



THE LITTLE ANGEL 



Ax times Sashka wished to give up what is 
called living : to cease to wash every morning 
in cold water, on which thin sheets of ice 
floated about ; to go no more to the grammar 
school, and there to have to listen to every 
one scolding him ; no more to experience 
the pain in the small of his back and indeed 
over his whole body when his mother made 
him kneel in the corner all the evening. But, 
since he was only thirteen years of age, and 
did not know all the means by which people 
abandon life at will, he continued to go to 
the grammar school and to kneel in the corner, 
and it seemed to him as if life would never 
end. A year would go by, and another, and 
yet another, and still he would be going to 
school, and be made to kneel in the corner. 
And since Sashka possessed an indomitable 
and bold spirit, he could not supinely tolerate 
evil, and so found means to avenge himself 
on life. With this object in view he would 

11 



12 THE LITTLE ANGEL 

thrash his companions, be rude to the Head, 
impertinent to the masters, and tell lies all 
day long to his teachers and to his mother 
but to his father only he never lied. If in a 
fight he got his nose broken, he would pur- 
posely make the damage worse, and howl, 
without shedding a single tear, but so loudly 
that all who heard him were fain to stop their 
ears to keep out the disagreeable sound. 
When he had howled as long as he thought 
advisable, he would suddenly cease, and, 
putting out his tongue, draw in his copy-book 
a caricature of himself howling at an usher 
who pressed his fingers to his ears, while the 
victor stood trembling with fear. The whole 
copy-book was filled with caricatures, the one 
which most frequently occurred being that 
of a short stout woman beating a boy as thin 
as a lucifer-match with a rolling pin. Below 
in a large scrawling hand would be written 
the legend : ' Beg my pardon, puppy ! ' and 
the reply, ' Won't ! blow'd if I do ! ' 

Before Christmas Sashka was expelled from 
school, and when his mother attempted to 
thrash him, he bit her finger. This action 
gave him his liberty. He left off washing in 
the morning, ran about all day bullying the 
other boys, and had but one fear, and that 
was hunger, for his mother entirely left off 
providing for him, so that he came to depend 



THE LITTLE ANGEL 13 

upon the pieces of bread and potatoes which 
his father secreted for him. On these con- 
ditions Sashka found existence tolerable. 

One Friday (it was Christmas Eve) he had 
been playing with the other boys, until they 
had dispersed to their homes, followed by 
the squeak of the rusty frozen wicket gate as 
it closed behind the last of them. It was 
already growing dark, and a grey snowy mist 
was travelling up from the country, along a 
dark alley ; in a low black building, which 
stood fronting the end of the alley, a lamp 
was burning with a reddish, unblinking light. 
The frost had become more intense, and when 
Sashka reached the circle of light cast by the 
lamp, he saw that fine dry flakes of snow 
were floating slowly on the air. It was high 
time to be getting home. 

'Where have you been knocking about all 
night, puppy ? ' exclaimed his mother, doub- 
ling her fist, without, however, striking. Her 
sleeves were turned up, exposing her fat 
white arms, and on her forehead, almost 
devoid of eyebrows, stood beads of perspira- 
tion. As Sashka passed by her he recognized 
the familiar smell of vodka. His mother 
scratched her head with the short dirty nail 
of her thick fore-finger, and since it was no 
good scolding, she merely spat, and cried : 
' Statisticians ! that's what they are ! ' 



14 THE LITTLE ANGEL 

Sashka shuffled contemptuously, and went 
behind the partition, from whence might be 
heard the heavy breathing of his father, Ivan 
Sawich, who was in a chronic state of shiver- 
ing, and was now trying to warm himself 
by sitting on the heated bench of the stove 
with his hands under him, palms downwards. 

' Sashka ! the Svetchnikovs have invited 
you to the Christmas tree. The housemaid 
came/ he whispered. 

' Get along with you ! ' said Sashka with 
incredulity. 

' Fact ! The old woman there has pur- 
posely not told you, but she has mended your 
jacket all the same.' 

' Non sense/ Sashka replied, still more sur- 
prised. 

The Svetchnikovs were rich people, who 
had put him to the grammar school, and after 
his expulsion had forbidden him their house. 

His father once more took his oath to the 
truth of his statement, and Sashka became 
meditative. 

' Well then, move, shift a bit/ he said to 
his father, as he leapt upon the short bench, 
adding : 

' I won't go to those devils. I should prove 
jolly well too much for them, if I were to 
turn up. Depraved boy,' drawled Sashka in 
imitation of his patrons. ' They are none 



THE LITTLE ANGEL 15 

too good themselves, the smug-faced prigs ! ' 

' Oh ! Sashka, Sashka,' his father com- 
plained, sitting hunched up with cold, ' you'll 
come to a bad end/ 

' What about yourself, then ? ' was Sashka's 
rude rejoinder. ' Better shut up. Afraid 
of the old woman. Ba ! old muff ! ' 

His father sat on in silence and shivered. 
A faint light found its way through a broad 
clink at the top, where the partition failed 
to meet the ceiling by a quarter of an inch, 
and lay in bright patches upon his high fore- 
head, beneath which the deep cavities of his 
eyes showed black. 

In times gone by Ivan Sawich had been 
used to drink heavily, and then his wife had 
feared and hated him. But when he had 
begun to develop unmistakable signs of con- 
sumption, and could drink no longer, she 
took to drink in her turn, and gradually accus- 
tomed herself to vodka. Then she avenged 
herself for all she had suffered at the hands 
of that tall narrow-chested man, who used 
incomprehensible words, had lost his place 
through disobedience and drunkenness, and 
who brought home with him just such long- 
haired, debauched and conceited fellows as 
himself. 

In contradistinction to her husband, the 
more Feoktista Petrovna drank the healthier 



16 THE LITTLE ANGEL 

she became, and the heavier became her fists. 
Now she said what she pleased, brought men 
and women to the house just as she chose, 
and sang with them noisy songs, while he lay 
silent behind the partition huddled together 
with perpetual cold, and meditating on the 
injustice and sorrow of human life. To 
every one, with whom she talked, she com- 
plained that she had no such enemies in the 
world as her husband and son, they were 
stuck-up statisticians ! 

For the space of an hour his mother kept 
drumming into Sashka's ears : 

' But I say you shall go/ punctuating each 
word with a heavy blow on the table, which 
made the tumblers, placed on it after washing, 
jump and rattle again. 

' But I say I won't ! ' Sashka coolly replied, 
dragging down the corners of his mouth with 
the will to show his teeth a habit which 
had earned for him at school the nickname 
of Wolfkin. 

' I'll thrash you, won't I just ! ' cried his 
mother. 

' All right ! thrash away ! ' 

But Feoktista Petrovna knew that she 
could no longer strike her son now that he 
had begun to retaliate by biting, and that if 
she drove him into the street he would go 
off larking, and sooner get frost-bitten than 



THE LITTLE ANGEL 17 

go to the Svetchnikovs, therefore she appealed 
to her husband's authority. 

' Calls himself a father, and can't protect 
the mother from insult ! ' 

' Really, Sashka, go. Why are you so 
obstinate ? ' he jerked out from the bench. 
' They will perhaps take you up again. They 
are kind people.' Sashka only laughed in 
an insulting manner. 

His father, long ago, before Sashka was 
born, had been tutor at the Svetchnikovs', 
and had ever since looked on them as the best 
people in the world. At that time he had 
held also an appointment in the statistical 
office of the Zemstvo, and had not yet taken 
to drink. Eventually he was compelled 
through his own fault to marry his landlady's 
daughter. From that time he severed his 
connection with the Svetchnikovs, and took 
to drink. Indeed, he let himself go to such 
an extent, that he was several times picked 
up drunk in the streets and taken to the 
police station. But the Svetchnikovs did not 
cease to assist him with money, and Feoktista 
Petrovna, although she hated them, together 
with books and everything connected with 
her husband's past, still valued their ac- 
quaintance, and was in the habit of boasting 
of it. 

' Perhaps you might bring something for 



18 THE LITTLE ANGEL 

me too from the Christmas tree,' continued 
his father. He was using craft to induce his 
son to go, and Sashka knew it, and despised 
his father for his weakness and want of 
straightforwardness ; though he really did 
wish to bring back something for the poor 
sickly old man, who had for a long time been 
without even good tobacco. 

' All right ! ' he blurted out ; ' give me my 
jacket. Have you put the buttons on ? No 
fear ! I know you too well ! ' 



II 

THE children had not yet been admitted to 
the drawing-room, where the Christmas tree 
stood, but remained chattering in the nur- 
sery. Sashka, with lofty superciliousness, 
stood listening to their naive talk, and finger- 
ing in his breeches pocket the broken cigar- 
ettes which he had managed to abstract from 
his host's study. At this moment there 
came up to him the youngest of the Svetchni- 
kovs, Kolya, and stood motionless before him, 
a look of surprise on his face, his toes turned 
in, and a finger stuck in the corner of his 
pouting mouth. Six months ago, at the in- 
stance of his relatives, he had given up this 
bad habit of putting his finger in his mouth, 
but he could not quite break himself of it. 
He had blonde locks cut in a fringe on his f ore- 
head'and falling in ringlets on his shoulders, 
and blue, wondering eyes; in fact, he was 
just such a boy in appearance as Sashka 
particularly loved to bully. 

' Are 'oo weally a naughty boy ? ' he in- 

19 



20 THE LITTLE ANGEL 

quired of Sashka. ' Miss said 'oo was. I'm 
a dood boy/ 

' That you are ! ' replied Sashka, consider- 
ing the other's short velvet trousers and 
great turndown collars. 

' Would 'oo like to have a dun ? There ! ' 
and he pointed at him a little pop-gun with 
a cork tied to it. The Wolf kin took the gun, 
pressed down the spring, and, aiming at the 
nose of the unsuspecting Kolya, pulled the 
trigger. The cork struck his nose, and re- 
bounding, hung by the string. Kolya's blue 
eyes opened wider than ever, and filled with 
tears. Transferring his finger from his mouth 
to his reddening nose he blinked his long 
eyelashes and whispered : 

< Bad bad boy ! ' 

A young lady of striking appearance, with 
her hair dressed in the simplest and the most 
becoming fashion, now entered the nursery. 
She was sister to the lady of the house, the 
very one indeed to whom Sashka's father had 
formerly given lessons. 

' Here's the boy,' said she, pointing out 
Sashka to the bald-headed man who accom- 
panied her. ' Bow, Sashka, you should not 
be so rude ! ' 

But Sashka would bow neither to her, nor 
to her companion of the bald head. She 
little suspected how much he knew. But, 



THE LITTLE ANGEL 21 

as a fact, Sashka did know that his miserable 
father had loved her, and that she had mar- 
ried another ; and, though this had taken 
place subsequent to his father's marriage, 
Sashka could not bring himself to forgive 
what seemed to him like treachery. 

' Takes after his father ! ' sighed Sofia 
Dmitrievna. ' Could not you, Plutov Mich- 
ailovich, do something for him ? My husband 
says that a commercial school would suit 
him better than the grammar school. Sashka, 
would you like to go to a technical school ? ' 

' No ! ' curtly replied Sashka, who had 
caught the offensive word ' husband.' 

' Do you want to be a shepherd, then ? ' 
asked the gentleman. 

' Not likely !' said Sashka, in an offended tone. 

' What then ? ' 

Now Sashka did not know what he would 
like to be, but upon reflection replied : ' Well, 
it's all the same to me, even a shepherd, if 
you like.' 

The bald-headed gentleman regarded the 
strange boy with a look of perplexity. When 
his eyes had travelled up from his patched 
boots to his face, Sashka put out his tongue 
and quickly drew it back again, so that Sofia 
Dmitrievna did not notice anything, but the 
old gentleman showed an amount of irasci- 
bility that she could not understand. 



22 THE LITTLE ANGEL 

1 1 should not mind going to a commercial 
school/ bashfully suggested Sashka. 

The lady was overjoyed at Sashka' s de- 
cision, and meditated with a sigh on the 
beneficial influence exercised by an old love. 

' I don't know whether there will be a 
vacancy/ dryly remarked the old man avoid- 
ing looking at Sashka, and smoothing down 
the ridge of hair which stuck up on the back 
of his head. ' However, we shall see/ 

Meanwhile the children were becoming 
noisy, and in a great state of excitement were 
waiting impatiently for the Christmas tree. 

The excellent practice with the pop-gun 
made in the hands of a boy, who commanded 
respect both for his stature and for his repu- 
tation for naughtiness, found imitators, and 
many a little button of a nose was made red. 
The tiny maids, holding their sides, bent 
almost double with laughter, as their little 
cavaliers with manly contempt of fear and 
pain, but all the same wrinkling up their 
faces in suspense, received the impact of the 
cork. 

At length the doors were opened, and a 
voice said : ' Come in, children ; gently, 
not so fast ! ' Opening their little eyes wide, 
and holding their breath in anticipation, the 
children filed into the brightly illumined 
drawing-room in orderly pairs, and quietly 



THE LITTLE ANGEL 23 

walked round the glittering tree. It cast a 
strong, shadowless light on their eager faces, 
with rounded eyes and mouths. For a 
minute there reigned the silence of profound 
enchantment, which all at once broke out 
into a chorus of delighted exclamation. One 
of the little girls, unable to restrain her de- 
light, kept dancing up and down in the same 
place, her little tress braided with blue ribbon 
beating meanwhile rhythmically against her 
shoulders. Sashka remained morose and 
gloomy something evil was working in his 
little wounded breast. The tree blinded him 
with its red, shriekingly insolent glitter of 
countless candles. It was foreign, hostile to 
him, even as the crowd of smart, pretty chil- 
dren which surrounded it. He would have 
liked to give it a shove, and topple it over 
on their shining heads. It seemed as though 
some iron hand were gripping his heart, and 
wringing out of it every drop of blood. He 
crept behind the piano, and sat down there 
in a corner unconsciously crumpling to pieces 
in his pocket the last of the cigarettes, and 
thinking that though he had a father and 
mother and a home, it came to the same thing 
as if he had none, and nowhere to go to. He 
tried to recall to his imagination his little 
penknife, which he had acquired by a swap 
not long ago, and was very fond of ; but his 



24 THE LITTLE ANGEL 

knife all at once seemed to him a very poor 
affair with its ground-down blade and only 
half of a yellow haft. To-morrow he would 
smash it up, and then he would have nothing 
left at all ! 

But suddenly Sashka's narrow eyes gleamed 
with astonishment, and his face in a moment 
resumed its ordinary expression of audacity 
and self-confidence. On the side of the tree 
turned towards him which was the back of 
it, and less brightly illumined than the other 
side he discovered something such as had 
never come within the circle of his existence, 
and without which all his surroundings ap- 
peared as empty as though peopled by per- 
sons without life. It was a little angel in 
wax carelessly hung in the thickest of the 
dark boughs, and looking as if it were floating 
in the air. His transparent dragon-fly wings 
trembled in the light, and he seemed alto- 
gether alive and ready to fly away. The 
rosy fingers of his exquisitely formed hands 
were stretched upwards, and from his head 
there floated just such locks as Kolya's. 
But there was something here that was want- 
ing in Kolya's face, and in all other faces 
and things. The face of the little angel did 
not shine with joy, nor was it clouded by 
grief ; but there lay on it the impress of 
another feeling, not to be explained in words, 



THE LITTLE ANGEL 25 

nor defined by thought, but to be attained 
only by the sympathy of a kindred feeling. 
Sashka was not conscious of the force of the 
mysterious influence which attracted him 
towards the little angel, but he felt that he 
had known him all his life, and had always 
loved him, loved him more than his penknife, 
more than his father, more than anything 
else. Filled with doubt, alarm, and a delight 
which he could not comprehend, Sashka 
clasped his hands to his bosom and whispered : 

' Dear dear little angel ! ' 

The more intently he looked the more 
fraught with significance the expression of 
the little angel's face became. He was so 
infinitely far off, so unlike everything which 
surrounded him there. The other toys 
seemed to take a pride in hanging there 
pretty, and decked out, upon the glittering 
tree, but he was pensive, and fearing the 
intrusive light purposely hid himself in the 
dark greenery, so that none might see him. 
It would be a mad cruelty to touch his dainty 
little wings. 

' Dear dear ! ' whispered Sashka. 

His head became feverish. He clasped his 
hands behind his back, and in full readiness 
to fight to the death to win the little angel, 
he walked to and fro with cautious, stealthy 
steps. He avoided looking at the little 



26 THE LITTLE ANGEL 

angel, lest he should direct the attention of 
others towards him, but he felt that he was 
still there, and had not flown away. 

Now the hostess appeared in the doorway, 
a tall, stately lady with a bright aureole of 
grey hair dressed high upon her head. The 
children trooped round her with expressions 
of delight, and the little girl the same that 
had danced about in her place hung wearily 
on her hand, blinking heavily with sleepy 
eyes. 

As Sashka approached her he seemed 
almost choking with emotion. 

' Auntie auntie ! ' x said he, trying to 
speak caressingly, but his voice sounded 
harsher than ever. ' Auntie, dear ! ' 

She did not hear him, so he tugged im- 
patiently at her dress. 

' What's the matter with you ? Why are 
you pulling my dress ? ' said the grey-haired 
lady in surprise. ' It's rude.' 

' Auntie auntie, do give me one thing 
from the tree ; give me the little angel.' 

' Impossible,' replied the lady in a tone of 
indifference. ' We are going to keep the tree 
decorated till the New Year. But you are 
no longer a child ; you should call me by 
name Maria Dmitrievna.' 

1 This is, of course, only a child's way of addressing 
an elder. Tr. 



THE LITTLE ANGEL 27 

Sashka, feeling as if he were falling down 
a precipice, grasped the last means of saving 
himself. 

' I am sorry I have been naughty. I'll be 
more industrious for the future,' he blurted 
out. But this formula, which had always 
paid with his masters, made no impression 
upon the lady of the grey hair. 

'A good thing, too, my friend/ she said, 
as unconcernedly as before. 

' Give me the little angel,' demanded 
Sashka, gruffly. 

' But it's impossible. Can't you under- 
stand that ? ' 

But Sashka did not understand, and when 
the lady turned to go out of the room he fol- 
lowed her, his gaze fixed without conscious 
thought upon her black silk dress. In his 
surging brain there glimmered a recollection 
of how one of the boys in his class had asked 
the master to mark him 3, 1 and when the 
master refused he had knelt down before him, 
and putting his hands together as in prayer, 
had begun to cry. The master was angry, 
but gave him 3 all the same. At the time 
Sashka had immortalised this episode in a 
caricature, but now his only means left was 
to follow the boy's example. Accordingly 

1 In Russian schools 5 is the maximum mark. Jr. 



28 THE LITTLE ANGEL 

he plucked at the lady's dress again, and 
when she turned round, dropped with a bang 
on to his knees, and folded his hands as de- 
scribed above. But he could not squeeze 
out a single tear ! 

' Are you out of your mind ? ' exclaimed 
the grey-haired lady, casting a searching 
look round the room ; but luckily no one was 
present. 

' What is the matter with you ? ' 

Kneeling there with clasped hands, Sashka 
looked at her with dislike, and rudely re- 
peated : 

' Give me the little angel.' 

His eyes, fixed intently on the lady to 
catch the first word she should utter, were 
anything but good to look at, and the hostess 
answered hurriedly : 

1 Well, then, I'll give it to you. Ah ! what 
a stupid you are ! I will give you what you 
want, but why could you not wait till the 
New Year ? ' 

' Stand up ! And. never,' she added in a 
didactic tone, ' never kneel to any one : it 
is humiliating. Kneel before God alone.' 

' Talk away ! ' thought Sashka, trying to 
get in front of her, and merely succeeding in 
treading on her dress. 

When she had taken the toy from the tree, 
Sashka devoured her with his eyes, but 



THE LITTLE ANGEL 29 

stretched out his hands for it with a 
painful pucker of the nose. It seemed to 
him that the tall lady would break the little 
angel. 

' Beautiful thing ! ' said the lady, who 
was sorry to part with such a dainty and 
presumably expensive toy. ' Who can have 
hung it there ? Well, what do you want 
with such a thing ? Are you not too big to 
know what to do with it ? Look, there are 
some picture-books. But this I promised to 
give to Kolya ; he begged so earnestly for 
it.' But this was not the truth. 

Sashka's agony became unbearable. He 
clenched his teeth convulsively, and seemed 
almost to grind them. The lady of the grey 
hair feared nothing so much as a scene, so 
she slowly held out the little angel to Sash- 
ka. 

' There now, take it ! ' she said in a dis- 
pleased tone ; ' what a persistent boy you 
are!' 

Sashka's hands as they seized the little 
angel seemed like tentacles, and were tense 
as steel springs, but withal so soft and careful 
that the little angel might have imagined 
himself to be flying in the air. 

' A-h-h ! ' escaped in a long diminuendo 
sigh from Sashka's breast, while in his eyes 
glistened two little tear-drops, which stood 



30 THE LITTLE ANGEL 

still there as though unused to the light. 
Slowly drawing the little angel to his bosom, 
he kept his shining eyes on the hostess, with 
a quiet, tender smile which died away in a 
feeling of unearthly bliss. It seemed, when 
the dainty wings of the little angel touched 
Sashka's sunken breast, as if he experienced 
something so blissful, so bright, the like of 
which had never before been experienced in 
this sorrowful, sinful, suffering world. 

' A-h-h ! ' sighed he once more as the 
little angel's wings touched him. And at the 
shining of his face the absurdly decorated and 
insolently glowing tree seemed to be extin- 
guished, and the grey-haired, portly dame 
smiled with gladness, and the parchment- 
like face of the bald-headed gentleman 
twitched, and the children fell into a vivid 
silence as though touched by a breath of 
human happiness. 

For one short moment all observed a mys- 
terious likeness between the awkward boy 
who had outgrown his clothes, and the linea- 
ments of the little angel, which had been 
spiritualised by the hand of an unknown 
artist. 

But the next moment the picture was 
entirely changed. Crouching like a panther 
preparing to spring, Sashka surveyed the 
surrounding company, on the look-out for 



THE LITTLE ANGEL 31 

some one who should dare wrest his little 
angel from him. 

' I'm going home,' he said in a dull voice, 
having in view a way of escape through the 
crowd, ' home to Father.' 



Ill 

His mother was asleep worn out with a 
whole day's work and vodka-drinking. In 
the little room behind the partition there 
stood a small cooking-lamp burning on the 
table. Its feeble yellow light, with diffi- 
culty penetrating the sooty glass, threw 
a strange shadow over the faces of Sashka 
and his father. 

' Is it not pretty ? ' asked Sashka in a 
whisper, holding the little angel at a dis- 
tance from his father, so as not to allow him 
to touch it. 

' Yes, there's something most remark- 
able about him,' whispered the father, gazing 
thoughtfully at the toy. And his face ex- 
pressed the same concentrated attention 
and delight, as did Sashka's. 

' Look, he is going to fly.' 

' I see it too,' replied Sashka in an ecstasy. 
'Think I'm blind? But look at his little 
wings ! Ah ! don't touch ! ' 

The father withdrew his hand, and with 

32 



THE LITTLE ANGEL 33 

troubled eyes studied the details of the little 
angel, while Sashka whispered with the air 
of a pedagogue : 

* Father, what a bad habit you have of 
touching everything ! You might break it.' 

There fell upon the wall the shadows of 
two grotesque, motionless heads bending 
towards one another, one big and shaggy, 
the other small and round. 

Within the big head strange torturing 
thoughts, though at the same time full of 
delight, were seething. His eyes unblink- 
ingly regarded the little angel, and under 
his steadfast gaze it seemed to grow larger 
and brighter, and its wings to tremble with 
a noiseless trepidation, and all the surround- 
ings the timber-built, soot-stained wall, 
the dirty table, Sashka everything became 
fused into one level grey mass without light 
or shade. It seemed to the broken man 
that he heard a pitying voice from the world 
of wonders, wherein once he had dwelt, and 
whence he had been cast out for ever. There 
they knew nothing of dirt, of weary quar- 
relling, of the blindly-cruel strife of egotism, 
there they knew nothing of the tortures of 
a man arrested in the streets with callous 
laughter, and beaten by the rough hand of 
the night-watchman. There everything is 
pure, joyful, bright. And all this purity 



34 THE LITTLE ANGEL 

found an asylum in the soul of her whom he 
loved more than life, and had lost when 
he had kept his hold upon his own useless 
life. With the smell of wax, which eman- 
ated from the toy, was mingled a subtle 
aroma, and it seemed to the broken man 
that her dear fingers touched the angel, 
those fingers which he would fain have 
caressed in one long kiss, till death should 
close his lips for ever. This was why the little 
toy was so beautiful, this was why there 
was in it something specially attractive, 
which defied description. The little angel 
had descended from that heaven which her 
soul was to him, and had brought a ray of 
light into the damp room, steeped in sul- 
phurous fumes, and to the dark soul of the 
man from whom had been taken all : love, 
and happiness, and life. 

On a level with the eyes of the man, who 
had lived his life, sparkled the eyes of the 
boy, who was beginning his life, and em- 
braced the little angel in their caress. For 
them present and future had disappeared : 
the ever-sorrowful, piteous father, the rough, 
unendurable mother, the black darkness of 
insults, of cruelty, of humiliations, and of 
spiteful grief. The thoughts of Sashka were 
formless, nebulous, but all the more deeply 
for that did they move his agitated soul. 



THE LITTLE ANGEL 35 

Everything that is good and bright in the 
world, all profound grief, and the hope of 
a soul that sighs for God the little angel 
absorbed them all into himself, and that 
was why he glowed with such a soft divine 
radiance, that was why his little dragon- 
fly wings trembled with a noiseless trepida- 
tion. 

The father and son did not look at one 
another : their sick hearts grieved, wept, 
and rejoiced apart. But there was a some- 
thing in their thoughts which fused their 
hearts in one, and annihilated that bottom- 
less abyss which separates man from man 
and makes him so lonely, unhappy, and 
weak. The father with an unconscious 
motion put his arm round the neck of his 
son, and the son's head rested equally with- 
out conscious volition upon his father's 
consumptive chest. 

' She it was who gave it to thee, was it 
not ? ' whispered the father, without taking 
his eyes off the little angel. 

At another time Sashka would have 
replied with a rude negation, but now the 
only reply possible resounded of itself within 
his soul, and he calmly pronounced the pious 
fraud : ' Who else ? of course she did.' 

The father made no reply, and Sashka 
relapsed into silence, 



36 THE LITTLE ANGEL 

Something grated in the adjoining room, 
then clicked, and then was silent for a 
moment, and then noisily and hurriedly the 
clock struck ' One, two, three.' 

' Sashka, do you ever dream ? ' asked the 
father in a meditative tone. 

' No ! Oh, yes,' he admitted, ' once I 
had one, in which I fell down from the roof. 
We were climbing after the pigeons, and I 
fell down.' 

' But I dream always. Strange things 
are dreams. One sees the whole past, one 
loves and suffers as though it were reality.' 

Again he was silent, and Sashka felt his 
arm tremble as it lay upon his neck. The 
trembling and pressure of his father's arm 
became stronger and stronger, and the 
sensitive silence of the night was all at once 
broken by the pitiful sobbing sound of sup- 
pressed weeping. Sashka sternly puckered 
his brow, and cautiously so as not to 
disturb the heavy trembling arm wiped 
away a tear from his eyes. So strange was 
it to see a big old man crying. 

' Ah ! Sashka, Sashka,' sobbed the father, 
' what is the meaning of everything ? ' 

' Why, what's the matter ? ' sternly whis- 
pered Sashka. ' You're crying just like a 
little boy.' 

'Well, I won't, then,' said the father 



THE LITTLE ANGEL 37 

with a piteous smile of excuse. ' What's 
the good ? ' 

Feoktista Petrovna turned on her bed. 
She sighed, cleared her throat, and mumbled 
incoherent sounds in a loud and strangely 
persistent manner. 

It was time to go to bed. But before 
doing so the little angel must be disposed 
of for the night. He could not be left on 
the floor, so he was hung up by his string, 
which was fastened to the flue of the stove. 
There it stood out accurately delineated 
against the white Dutch-tiles. And so they 
could both see him, Sashka and his father. 

Hurriedly throwing into a corner the 
various rags on which he was in the habit 
of sleeping, Sashka lay down on his back, 
in order as quickly as possible to look again 
at the little angel. 

' Why don't you undress ? ' asked his 
father as he shivered and wrapped himself 
up in his tattered blanket, and arranged his 
clothes, which he had thrown over his feet. 

' What's the good ? I shall soon be up 
again.' 

Sashka wished to add that he did not care 
to go to sleep at all, but he had no time to 
do so, since he fell to sleep as suddenly as 
though he had sunk to the bottom of a deep 
swift river. 



38 THE LITTLE ANGEL 

His father presently fell asleep also. And 
gentle sleep and restfulness lay upon the 
weary face of the man who had lived his 
life, and upon the brave face of the little 
man who was just beginning his life. 

But the little angel hanging by the hot 
stove began to melt. The lamp, which had 
been left burning at the entreaty of Sashka, 
filled the room with the smell of kerosene, 
and through its smoked glass threw a melan- 
choly light upon a scene of gradual disso- 
lution. The little angel seemed to stir. 
Over his rosy fingers there rolled thick drops 
which fell upon the bench. To the smell 
of kerosene was added the stifling scent of 
melting wax. The little angel gave a tremble 
as though on the point of flight, and fell 
with a soft thud upon the hot flags. 

An inquisitive cockroach singed its wings 
as it ran round the formless lump of melted 
wax, climbed up the dragon-fly wings, and 
twitching its feelers went on its way. 

Through the curtained window the grey- 
blue light of coming day crept in, and the 
frozen water-carrier was already making a 
noise in the courtyard with his iron scoop. 



AT THE ROADSIDE STATION 

IT was early spring when I went to the 
bungalow. On the road still lay last year's 
darkened leaves. I was unaccompanied ; 
and alone I wandered through the still 
empty bungalow, the windows of which 
reflected the April sun. I mounted the 
broad bright terraces, and wondered who 
would live here under the green canopy of 
birch and oak. And when I closed my eyes 
I seemed to hear quick, cheerful footsteps, 
youthful song, and the ringing sound of 
women's laughter. 

I used often to go to the station to meet 
the passenger trains. I was not expecting 
any one, for there was no one to come and 
see me ; but I am fond of those iron giants, 
when they rush past, rolling their shoulders, 
tearing along the rails with colossal mo- 
mentum, and carrying somewhither persons 
unknown to me, but still my fellow-creatures. 
They seem to me alive and uncanny. In 
their speed I recognize the immensity of 

39 



40 AT THE ROADSIDE STATION 

the world and the might of man, and when 
they whistle with such abandon and in so 
imperious a manner, I think how they are 
whistling in the same way in America, and 
Asia, maybe in torrid Africa. 

The station was a small one, with two 
short sidings, and when the passenger train 
had left it became still and deserted. The 
forest and the streaming sunshine dominated 
the little low platform and the desolate 
track, and blended the rails in silence and 
light. On one of the sidings under an empty 
sleeping-car fowls wandered about, swarm- 
ing round the iron wheels, and one could 
hardly believe, as one watched their peaceful, 
fussy activity, that it would be much the 
same in America, in Asia, or in torrid Africa. 
... In a week I became acquainted with 
all the inhabitants of this little corner, and 
saluted as acquaintances the watchmen in 
their blue blouses, and the silent pointsmen 
with their dull countenances and their brass 
horns, which glittered in the sun. 

Every day I saw at the station a gen- 
darme. He was a healthy, strong fellow, 
as are they all, with broad back, in a tightly 
stretched blue uniform, with enormous arms 
and a youthful countenance, upon which, 
from behind a severe official dignity, there 
still looked out the blue-eyed naivete of the 



AT THE ROADSIDE STATION 41 

country. At first he used to scan me all 
over with a gloomy suspicion, and put on 
a look of unapproachable severity without 
a touch of indulgence, and when he passed 
me would clank his spurs in a peculiarly 
sharp and eloquent manner. But he soon 
became used to me, just as he had become 
used to the pillars which supported the roof 
of the platform, to the desolate track, and 
to the discarded sleeping-car under which 
the fowls kept running about. In such 
quiet corners a habit is soon formed. And 
when he left off observing me, I perceived 
that this man was bored bored as no one 
else in the world. He was bored with the 
wearisome station, bored by the absence 
of thoughts, bored by his strength-devour- 
ing inactivity, bored by the exclusiveness 
of his position, somewhere in the void be- 
tween the station-master, who was unap- 
proachable to him, and the lower employes 
to whom he was himself unapproachable. 
His soul lived on breaches of the peace, but 
at this tiny station no one ever committed 
a breach of the peace, and every time the 
passenger train departed without any adven- 
ture there passed over the face of the gen- 
darme the expression of annoyance and 
vexation of a person who has been deprived 
of his due. For some minutes he would 



42 AT THE ROADSIDE STATION 

stand still in indecision, and then with list- 
less gait walk to the other end of the plat- 
form without any aim or object. On his 
way he might stop for a second in front of 
some peasant woman who had been waiting 
for the train but she was only a peasant 
woman like any other and so knitting his 
brows the gendarme would pass on his way. 
Then he would sit down stout and list- 
less, as though he had been boiled soft, and 
felt how soft and flabby were his useless 
arms under the cloth of his uniform, and 
how his powerful body, created for work, 
grew weary with the torturing fatigue of 
doing nothing. We are bored only in the 
head, but he was bored in every part of him, 
from head to foot : his cap, cocked on one 
side with youthful lack of purpose, was 
bored, his spurs were bored and tinkled 
inharmoniously and irregularly as though 
muffled. Then he began to yawn. How 
he yawned ! his mouth became contorted, 
expanded from ear to ear, grew broader and 
broader, till it swallowed up his whole face, 
it seemed that in another second, through 
the ever enlarging aperture, you would be 
able to see down his throat, choke-full of 
greasy soup. How he yawned ! He went 
away in a hurry, but for long that awful 
yawn seemed to put my jaw-bone out of 



AT THE ROADSIDE STATION 43 

joint, and the trees were broken and bobbing 
about to my tear-filled eyes. 

Once from the mail train they took a 
passenger travelling without a ticket, and 
this was a very festival for the bored gen- 
darme. He drew himself up, his spurs 
jingled with precision and austerity, his 
face became concentrated and angry ; but 
his happiness was but short-lived. The 
passenger paid his fare, and with a hasty 
oath got back into the car, and in the rear 
the metal rowels of the gendarme's spurs 
gave a disconcerted and piteous rattle, as 
his enervated body swayed feebly over 
them. 

And at times when he yawned he became 
to me something terrible. 

For some days workmen had been busy 
about the station clearing the site, and when 
I returned from town after a stay of a couple 
of days, the masons were laying the third 
row of bricks ; a brand-new building was 
arising. These masons were numerous, and 
worked quickly and skilfully ; and it was 
a strange pleasure to watch the straight, 
even wall springing up out of the ground. 
When they had covered one row with mortar 
they laid on a second row, adjusting the 
bricks according to their dimensions, laying 
them now on the broad side, now on the 



44 AT THE ROADSIDE STATION 

narrow, and cutting off the corners to make 
them fit. They worked meditatively, and 
though the course of their meditation was 
evident enough, and their problem clear, 
still it gave an additional charm and interest 
to the work. I was looking at them with 
enjoyment when an authoritative voice at 
my elbow shouted : 

' Look here, you, What's your name ! Why 
don't you put this right ? ' 

It was the voice of the gendarme, squeezing 
himself through the iron railings, which 
separated the asphalt platform from the 
workmen ; he was pointing to a certain brick 
and insisting : ' You with the beard ! lay 
that brick properly. Don't you see, it's a 
half-brick ? ' 

The mason with the beard, which was in 
places whitened with lime, turned round in 
silence the gendarme's face was severe and 
imposing in silence he followed the direction 
of the gendarme's finger, took up the brick, 
trimmed it, and in silence put it back in its 
place. The gendarme gave me a severe look 
and went away ; but the seductive interest 
in the work was stronger than his sense of 
dignity. When he had made a couple of 
turns on the platform, he again came to a 
standstill in front of the workmen, adopting a 
somewhat careless and contemptuous pose. 



AT THE ROADSIDE STATION 45 

But his face no longer showed signs of bore- 
dom. 

I went to the wood, and when I was return- 
ing through the station it was one o'clock, the 
workmen were resting, and the place was 
empty as usual. But some one was busying 
himself about the unfinished wall ; it was 
the gendarme. He was taking up bricks, 
and finishing the fifth row. I could only 
catch a sight of his broad, tightly stretched 
back, but it was expressive of intent thought, 
and indecision. Evidently the work was 
more complicated than he had imagined. 
His unaccustomed eye was playing him false ; 
he stepped back, shook his head, stooped for a 
fresh brick, striking the ground with his sabre 
as he bent down. Once he raised his finger, 
in the classic gesture of one who has discovered 
the solution of a problem, such as might 
have been used by Archimedes himself, and 
his back once more assumed the erect attitude 
of greater self-confidence and certainty. But 
immediately it became once more doubled up 
in the consciousness of the undignified nature 
of the work undertaken. There was in his 
whole, full-grown figure something secretive 
as with children, when they are afraid they 
will be found out. 

I carelessly struck a match to light a cigar- 
ette, and the gendarme turned round startled. 



46 AT THE ROADSIDE STATION 

For a moment he looked at me in confusion, 
and suddenly his youthful countenance was 
illumined by a slightly solicitous, confiding, 
and kindly smile. But the very next moment 
he resumed his austere, unapproachable look, 
and his hand went up to his little thin mous- 
tache but in it, in that very hand, there still 
lay that unlucky brick! And I saw how 
painfully ashamed he was of that brick, 
and of his involuntary, compromising smile. 
Apparently he did not know how to blush, 
otherwise he would have become as red as the 
brick which he still held helplessly in his hand. 
They had carried the wall up half way, and 
it was no longer possible to see what the skil- 
ful masons were doing on their scaffolding. 
Once more the gendarme oscillated from end 
to end of the platform, yawning, and when he 
turned round and passed me I could feel that 
he was ashamed and that he hated me. 
And as I looked at his powerful arms listlessly 
swinging in their sleeves, at his inharmoniously 
jingling spurs, and trailing sabre, it seemed 
to me that it was all unreal that in the scab- 
bard there was no sabre at all with which he 
might cut a man down, in the case no re- 
volver, with which he might shoot a man 
dead. And his very uniform, that too was 
unreal, and seemed as though it was all just 
some strange masquerade taking place in full 



AT THE ROADSIDE STATION 47 

daylight, in the face of the honest April 
sun, and amidst ordinary working people, 
and busy fowls picking up grains under the 
sleeping-car. 

But at times at times I began to fear for 
some one. He was so terribly bored. . . 



SNAPPER 



HE belonged to no one, he had no name of his 
own, and none could say where he spent the 
long, frosty winter, or how he was fed. The 
house-dogs hungry as himself, but proud and 
strong from the consciousness of belonging 
to a house, would chase him away from the 
warm cottages. When driven by hunger or 
an instinctive need of company, he showed 
himself in the street, the boys pelted him 
with stones and sticks, while the grown-ups 
gave a merry whoop, or a terribly piercing 
whistle. Distraught with fear he would dart 
about from side to side, and stumbling against 
the fences and people's legs, would run as fast 
as he could to the end of the village, and hide 
himself in the depths of a large garden in a 
place known only to himself. There he would 
lick his bruises and wounds, and in solitude 
heap up terror and malice. 

Once only had he been pitied and petted. 
This was by a peasant, a drunkard, who was 

I~A. 49 4 



50 SNAPPER 

returning from the public house. Just then 
he loved all things, and pitied all, and said 
something in his beard about kind people, 
and the trust he himself put in kind people. 
He pitied even the dirty, unlovely dog, on 
which by chance his drunken, aimless glance 
had fallen. 

' Doggie/ said he, calling it by a name 
common to all dogs ; ' Doggie, come here, 
don't be afraid.' 

Doggie wanted very much to come. He 
wagged his tail, but could not make up his 
mind. The peasant patted his knee with his 
hand, and repeated reassuringly : 

' Come along, then, silly. I swear I won't 
hurt you.' 

But while the dog was hesitating, wagging 
its tail more and more energetically, and 
advancing with short steps, the humour of 
the drunkard changed. He recalled all the 
insults that had been heaped on him by kind 
people, and felt angry and dully malicious, 
so that when Doggie lay on his back before 
him, he gave him a vicious kick in the side 
with the toe of his heavy boot. 

' Garn ! Dirty ! Where are you coming 
to!' 

The dog began to whimper, more from 
surprise and the insult, than from pain, and 
the peasant staggered home, where he gave 



SNAPPER 51 

his wife a savage beating, and tore to pieces a 
new kerchief which he had bought for her as a 
present the week before. 

From this time forth the dog ceased to 
trust people who wished to pet it, and either 
put his tail between his legs and ran away, 
or sometimes would fly at them angrily and 
try to bite them, until they succeeded in 
driving him away with stones or a stick. 
For one winter he had taken up his abode 
under the verandah of an unoccupied bunga- 
low which was without a caretaker, and took 
care of it for nothing. By night he ran about 
the streets and barked till he was hoarse, and 
long after he had lain himself down in his 
place, he would keep up an angry growl, but 
beneath the anger there was apparent a certain 
amount of content, and even pride, in himself. 

The winter nights dragged themselves out 
slowly, and the black windows of the empty 
bungalow gazed grimly on the motionless, 
icy garden. Sometimes blue lights seemed 
to kindle in them, at others a falling star 
would be reflected in the panes, or again the 
sharp-horned moon would throw on them its 
timid ray. 



II 

SPRING came on, and the quiet bungalow was 
all a-voice with loud talk, the creaking of 
wheels, and the stamping of people moving 
heavy things. The owners had arrived from 
the city, a whole merry troop of grown-up 
people, of half-grown-ups and children, all 
intoxicated with the air, the warmth and the 
light. Some shouted, some sang, and some 
laughed with shrill female voices. 

The first with whom the dog made ac- 
quaintance was a pretty girl, who ran out into 
the garden in a formal, cinnamon-coloured 
dress. 1 Greedily and impatiently desiring to 
seize and hug in her embrace everything 
visible, she looked at the clear sky, at the 
reddish cherry twigs, and lay quickly down 
on the grass with her face towards the burning 
sun. Then she got up again as suddenly, 
and hugging herself, and kissing the Spring 
air with her fresh lips, said expressively and 
seriously : 

1 Such as is worn by schoolgirls and girl students. 
Tr. 

52 



SNAPPER 53 

Well, this is jolly ! ' 

She spoke, and then suddenly turned round. 
At this very moment the dog noiselessly ap- 
proached, and furiously seized the extended 
skirt of her dress in its teeth and tore it, 
and then as noiselessly disappeared into the 
thick gooseberry and currant bushes. 

' Oh ! bad dog ! ' cried the girl, running 
away, and for long might be heard her agitated 
voice : ' Mamma ! children ! don't go into 
the garden. There is a dog there, such a 
great, big, fierce one ! ' 

At night the dog crept up to the sleeping 
bungalow, and noiselessly lay down in its 
place under the verandah. It smelt of 
people, and through the open windows was 
borne the soft sound of gentle breathing. 
The people were asleep, they were powerless 
and no longer terrible, and the dog jealously 
guarded them. He slept with one eye open, 
and at every rustle stretched out his head 
with its two motionless phosphorescent eyes. 
But the alarming noises were so many in the 
sensitive Spring night : in the grass something 
small and unseen rustled, and came quite 
close to the shiny nose of the dog ; last year's 
twigs crackled under the feet of sleeping birds, 
and on the neighbouring road a cart rumbled, 
and heavily-laden wains creaked. And afar 
off round about in the motionless air was 



54 SNAPPER 

diffused the sweet, fresh scent of resin, and 
lured one into the lightening distance. 

The owners who had arrived at the bunga- 
low were very kind people, and all the more 
so now that they were far from the city, 
breathing pure air, seeing around them every- 
thing green, and blue and harmless. The 
sunlight went into them in warmth, and 
came out again in laughter and goodwill 
towards all things living. At first they 
wished to drive away the dog, of which they 
were afraid, and even shot at it with a re- 
volver, when it would not take itself off ; 
but later they became accustomed to its 
barking at night, and even sometimes re- 
membered it in the morning : 

' But where's our Snapper ? ' 

And this new name ' Snapper ' stuck to it. 
Sometimes even by day they would notice 
among the bushes its dark body, which would 
fall flat on the ground at the first motion of a 
hand throwing bread as though it were a 
stone, not bread, and soon all became 
accustomed to Snapper, and called him ' our 
dog/ and joked about the cause of his shyness 
and unreasonable fear. Each day Snapper 
diminished by one step the distance which 
separated him from the people ; he grew 
accustomed to their faces, and adopted their 
habits. Half an hour before dinner he would 



SNAPPER 55 

be already standing in the shrubs, blinking 
with a conciliatory air. And that same little 
schoolgirl it was, who, forgetting the former 
outrage, brought the dog definitely into the 
happy circle of cheerful, restful people. 

' Snapper, come here,' said she, calling 
him. ' Good dog, come here. Do you like 
sugar ? I'll give you a lump. Come along, 
then.' 

But Snapper would not come ; he was 
afraid. Then cautiously patting her knee, 
and speaking with all the caressing kindness 
of a beautiful voice and a pretty face, Lelya 
approached the dog, but was in her turn 
afraid ; suddenly he snapped. 

' I am so fond of you, Snapper, dear ; 
you have such a nice little nose, and such 
expressive eyes. Won't you trust me, Snap- 
perkin ? ' 

Lelya raised her eyebrows, and her own 
little nose was so pretty and her eyes so 
expressive, that the sun acted wisely in cover- 
ing all her little youthful, naively charming 
face with hot kisses, till her cheeks were red. 

Snapper for the second time in his life 
turned on his back and closed his eyes, not 
knowing for a certainty whether he was to be 
kicked or petted. But he was petted. Small 
warm hands touched irresolutely his woolly 
head, and as though this were a sign of un- 



56 SNAPPER 

deniable authority, began freely and boldly 
to run over the whole of his hairy body, 
rumpling, petting, and tickling. 

' Mamma ! children ! look here, I'm petting 
Snapper/ cried Lelya. 

When the children ran up, noisy, loud- 
voiced, quick and bright as drops of uncon- 
trollable mercury, Snapper cowed down in 
fear and helpless expectancy : he knew that 
if any one struck him now, he would no 
longer be in a position to fix his sharp teeth 
in the body of the offender : his unappeasable 
malice had been taken from him. And 
when they all began to vie in caressing him, 
he for a long time could not help trembling at 
each touch of the caressing hand, and the 
unwonted fondling hurt him as though it had 
been a blow. 



Ill 



ALL Snapper's doggy nature expanded. He 
had now a name, at the sound of which he 
rushed headlong from the green depths of the 
garden ; he belonged to people, and could serve 
them. What more did a dog need to make 
him happy ! 

Being accustomed to the moderation in- 
duced by years of a vagrant, hungry life, he 
ate but little, but that little changed him out 
of recognition. His long coat, which formerly 
had hung in foxy dry tufts on his back and 
on his belly, which had been covered eter- 
nally with dried mud, now became clean, 
and grew black, and became as glossy as 
velvet. And when he, having nothing better 
to do, would run to the gates and stand on 
the threshold, looking up and down the street 
with a dignified air, no one ever took it into 
his head to tease him or throw stones at 
him. 

But such pride and independence he could 
enjoy only to himself. Fear had not as yet 

57 



58 SNAPPER 

been wholly evaporated from his heart by 
the fire of caresses, and so every time people 
appeared, or approached him, he hid himself 
expecting a beating. And still for a long 
time every caress came to him as a surprise, 
and a wonder, which he could neither under- 
stand, nor respond to. He did not know how 
to receive caresses. Other dogs could stand 
and walk about on their hind legs and even 
smile, and thus express their feelings, but he 
did not know how. 

The one only thing that Snapper was able 
to do was to roll on his back, shut his eyes, and 
whimper gently. But this was insufficient, 
it could not express his delight, his thankful- 
ness and love. By a sudden inspiration, 
however, Snapper began to do something, 
which maybe he had seen done by other 
dogs, but had long since forgotten. He 
turned absurd somersaults, leapt awkwardly, 
and ran after his tail ; and his body, which 
had been always so supple and active, became 
stiff, ridiculous, and pitiful. 

' Mamma ! children ! look, Snapper is 
performing/ cried Lelya, and choking with 
laughter, said : ' Once more, Snapper, once 
more. That's right ! ' 

And they gathered together and laughed, 
and Snapper kept on twisting round, and turn- 
ing somersaults and falling, and no one saw 



SNAPPER 59 

the strange entreating look in his eyes. And 
as formerly they used to howl and shout at 
the dog to see his despairing fear, so now they 
caressed him on purpose to excite in him an 
ebullition of love, so infinitely laughable in its 
awkward, absurd manifestations. Hardly an 
hour passed but some one of the half-grown- 
ups or the children would cry : 

' Now then, Snapper dear, perform ! ' 
And Snapper would twist about, turn 
somersaults, and fall, amid merry, irrepres- 
sible laughter. They praised him to his face 
and behind his back, and lamented only one 
thing, viz., that he would not show off his 
tricks before strangers, who came to visit, 
but would run away into the garden, or hide 
himself under the verandah. 

Gradually Snapper became accustomed to 
not being obliged to trouble himself about his 
food, since at the appointed hour the cook 
would give him scraps and bones, while he 
confidently and quietly lay in his place under 
the verandah, and even sought and asked for 
caresses. And he grew heavy : he seldom 
ran away from the bungalow, and when the 
little children called him to go with them to 
the forest, he would wag an evasive tail, and 
disappear unseen. But all the same at night 
his bark would be loud and wakeful as ever. 



IV 



AUTUMN began to glow with yellow fires, and 
the sky to weep with heavy rain, and the 
bungalows became quickly empty, and silent, 
as though the incessant rain and wind had 
extinguished them one by one, like candles. 

' What are we to do with Snapper ? ' asked 
Lelya, with hesitation. She was sitting em- 
bracing her knees and looking sorrowfully out 
of the window, down which were rolling glis- 
tening drops of rain. 

' What a position you're in, Lelya ; that's 
not the way to sit ! ' said her mother, and 
added : ' Snapper must be left behind, poor 
fellow.' 

' That's a pity,' said Lelya lingeringly. 

' But what can one do ? We have no 
court-yard at home, and we can't keep him in 
the house, that you must very well under- 
stand.' 

' It's a pity,' repeated Lelya, ready to 
cry. Her dark brows were raised, like a 

60 



SNAPPER 61 

swallow's wings, and her pretty little nose 
puckered piteously, when her mother said : 

' The Dogayevs offered me a puppy some 
time ago. They say that it is very well bred, 
and ready trained. Do you see ? But this 
is only a yard-dog/ 

' A pity,' repeated Lelya, but she did not 
cry. 

Once more strangers arrived, and wagons 
creaked, and the floors groaned beneath 
heavy footsteps, but there was less talk, and 
no laughter was heard at all. Terrified by 
the strange people, and dimly prescient of 
calamity, Snapper fled to the extreme end 
of the garden, and thence through the thin- 
ning bushes gazed unceasingly at that corner 
of the verandah which was open to his view, 
and at the figures in red shirts which were 
moving about on it. 

' You there ! my poor Snapper,' said 
Lelya as she came out. She was already 
dressed for the journey in the same cinnamon 
skirt, out of which Snapper had torn a piece, 
and a black jacket. ' Come along ! ' 

And they went out into the road. The 
rain kept coming and going, and the whole 
expanse between the blackened earth and the 
sky was full of clubbed, swiftly-moving 
clouds. From below it could be seen how 
heavy they were, impenetrable to the light 



62 SNAPPER 

on account of the water which saturated 
them, and how weary the sun must be behind 
that solid wall. 

To the left of the road stretched the dark- 
ened stubble field, and only on the near hum- 
mocky horizon short uneven trees and shrubs 
appeared in lonesome patches. In front, not 
far off, was the barrier, and near it a wine- 
shop with red iron roof, and by it was a group 
of people teasing the village idiot Ilyusha. 

' Give us a ha'penny,' snuffled the idiot 
in a drawling voice, and evil, jeering voices 
replied all together : 

' Will you chop up some wood ? ' 

Ilyusha reviled foully and cynically, and 
the others laughed without mirth. A sun- 
ray broke through, yellow and anaemic, as 
though the sun were hopelessly sick ; and the 
foggy Autumn distance became wider, and 
more melancholy. 

' I'm sorry, Snapper ! ' Lelya gently let fall 
the words, and went back without looking 
round. It was not till she reached the sta- 
tion that she remembered that she had not 
said good-bye to Snapper. 

Snapper long followed the track of the peo- 
ple as they went away, he ran as far as the 
station, and wet through and muddy, re- 
turned to the bungalow. There he performed 



SNAPPER 63 

one more new trick, which no one, however, 
was there to see. For the first time he went 
on to the verandah, stood on his hind legs, 
looked in at the glass door, and even scratched 
at it. But the rooms were all empty, and no 
one answered him. 

A violent rain poured down, and on all 
sides the darkness of the long Autumn night 
began to close in. Quickly and dully it 
filled the empty bungalow : noiselessly it 
crept out from the shrubs, and in company 
with the rain, poured down from the uninvit- 
ing sky. On the verandah, from which the 
awning had been taken away, and which for 
that reason looked like a broad and unknown 
waste, the light had long been in conflict with 
the darkness, and mournfully illumined the 
marks of dirty feet ; but soon it gave in. 

Night had come on. 

When there was no longer any doubt that 
the night was upon him, the dog began to 
howl in loud complaint. With a note reson- 
ant, and sharp as despair, that howl broke 
into the monotonous, sullenly persistent sound 
of the rain, rending the darkness, and then 
dying down was carried over the dark naked 
fields. 

The dog howled regularly, persistently, 
desperately, soberly and to any one who 
heard that howling it seemed as though the 



64 SNAPPER 

impenetrable dark night itself were groaning 
and longing for the light, and he would wish 
himself with his wife by his warm fireside. 
The dog howled. 



THE LIE 

' You lie ! I know you lie ! ' 

' What are you shouting for ? Is it neces- 
sary that every one should hear us ? ' 

And here again she lied, for I had not 
shouted, but spoken in the quietest voice, 
holding her hand and speaking quite gently 
while that venomous word ' lie ' hissed like a 
little serpent. 

' I love you,' she continued, ' and you ought 
to believe me. Does not this convince you ? ' 

And she kissed me. But when I was about 
to take hold of her hand and press it she 
was already gone. She left the semi-dark 
corridor, and I followed her once more to the 
place where a gay party was just coming to an 
end. How did I know where it was ? She 
had told me that I might go there, and I went 
there and watched the dancing all the night 
through. No one came near me, or spoke to 
me, I was a stranger to all, and sat in the 
corner near the band. Pointed straight at me 
was the mouth of a great brass instrument, 

I-A. 65 5 



66 THE LIE 

through which some one hidden in the depths 
of it kept bellowing, and every minute or so 
would give a rude staccato laugh : ' Ho ! ho ! 
ho!' 

From time to time a scented white cloud 
would come close to me. It was she. I knew 
not how she managed to caress me without 
being observed, but for one short little second 
her shoulder would press mine, and for one 
short little second I would lower my eyes and 
see a white neck in the opening of a white 
dress. And when I raised my eyes I saw a 
profile as white, severe, and truthful as that 
of a pensive angel on the tomb of the long- 
forgotten dead. And I saw her eyes. They 
were large, greedy of the light, beautiful, and 
calm. From their blue- white setting the 
pupils shone black, and the more I looked at 
them the blacker they seemed, and the more 
unfathomable their depths. Maybe I looked 
at them for so short a time that my heart 
failed to make the slightest impression, but 
certainly never did I understand so profoundly 
and terribly the meaning of Infinity, nor 
ever realised it with such force. I felt in 
fear and pain that my very life was passing 
out in a slender ray into her eyes, until I be- 
came a stranger to myself desolated, speech- 
less, almost dead. Then she would leave 
me, taking my life with her, and dance again 



THE LIE 67 

with a certain tall, haughty, but handsome 
partner of hers. I studied his every character- 
istic the shape of his shoes, the width of his 
rather high shoulders, the rhythmic sway of 
one of his locks, which separated itself from 
the rest, while with his indifferent, unseeing 
glance he, as it were, crushed me against the 
wall, and I felt myself as flat and lifeless to 
look at as the wall itself. 

When they began to extinguish the lights, 
I went up to her and said : 

' It is time to go. I will accompany you.' 

But she expressed surprise. 

' But certainly I am going with him,' and 
she pointed to the tall, handsome man, who 
was not looking at us. She led me out into 
an empty room and kissed me. 

' You lie,' I said very softly. 

' We shall meet again to-morrow. You 
must come/ was her answer. 

When I drove home, the green frosty dawn 
was looking out from behind the high roofs. 
In the whole street there were only we two, 
the sledge-driver and I. He sat with bent 
head and wrapped-up face, and I sat behind 
him wrapped up to the very eyes. The 
sledge-driver had his thoughts, and I had 
mine, and there behind the thick walls thou- 
sands of people were sleeping, and they had 
their own dreams and thoughts. I thought 



68 THE LIE 

of her, and of how she lied. I thought of 
death, and it seemed to me that those dimly- 
lightened walls had already looked upon my 
death, and that was why they were so cold 
and upright. I know not what the thoughts 
of the sledge-driver may have been, neither 
do I know of what those hidden by the walls 
were dreaming. But then, neither did they 
know my thoughts and reveries. 

And so we drove on through the long and 
straight streets, and the dawn rose from be- 
hind the roofs, and all around was motionless 
and white. A cold, scented cloud came close 
to me, and straight into my ear some one 
unseen laughed : 

'Ho! ho! ho!' 



II 

SHE had lied. She did not come, and I 
waited for her in vain. The grey, uniform, 
frozen semi-darkness descended from the 
lightless sky, and I was not conscious of 
when the twilight passed into evening, and 
when the evening passed into night to me 
it was all one long night. I kept walking 
backwards and forwards with the same even, 
measured steps of hope deferred. I did not 
come close up to the tall house, where my 
beloved dwelt, nor to its glazed door which 
shone yellow at the end of the iron covered- 
way, but I walked on the opposite side of the 
street with the same measured strides 
backwards and forwards, backwards and 
forwards. In going forward I did not take 
my eye off the glazed door, and when I turned 
back I stopped frequently and turned my 
head round, and then the snow pricked my 
face with its sharp needles. And so long 
were those sharp cold needles that they pene- 
trated to my very heart, and pierced it with 
grief and anger at my useless waiting. The 

69 



70 THE LIE 

cold wind blew uninterruptedly from the 
bright north to the dark south, and whistled 
playfully on the icy roofs, and rebounding 
cut my face with sharp little snowflakes, 
and softly tapped the glasses of the empty 
lanterns, in which the lonely yellow flame, 
shivering with cold, bent to the draught. 
And I felt sorry for the lonely flame which 
lived only by night, and I thought to myself, 
when I go away all life will end in this street, 
and only the snowflakes will fly through the 
empty space ; but still the yellow flame will 
continue to shiver and bend in loneliness 
and cold. 

I waited for her, but she came not. And 
it seemed to me that the lonely flame and I 
were like one another, only that my lamp 
was not empty, for in that void, which I kept 
measuring with my strides, there did some- 
times appear people. They grew up un- 
heard behind my back, big and dark ; they 
passed me, and like ghosts suddenly disap- 
peared round the corner of the white building. 
Then again they would come out from round 
the corner, come up alongside of me and 
then gradually melt away in the great 
distance, obscured by the silently falling 
snow. Muffled up, formless, silent, they 
were so like to one another and to my- 
self that it seemed as if scores of people 



THE LIE 71 

were walking backwards and forwards and 
waiting, as I was, shivering and silent, and 
were thinking their own enigmatic sad 
thoughts-. 

I waited for her, but she came not. I 
know not why I did not cry out and weep 
for pain. I know not why I laughed and 
was glad, and crooked my fingers like claws, 
as though I held in them that little venomous 
thing which kept hissing like a snake : a 
lie ! It wriggled in my hands, and bit my 
heart, and my head reeled with its poison. 
Everything was a lie ! The boundary line 
between the future and the present, the 
present and the past, vanished. The boun- 
dary line between the time when I did not 
yet exist, and the time when I began to be, 
vanished, and I thought that I must have 
always been alive, or else never have lived 
at all. And always, before I lived and when 
I began to live, she had ruled over me, and 
I felt it strange that she should have a name 
and a body, and that her existence should 
have a beginning and an end. She had no 
name, she was always the one that lies, 
that makes eternally to wait, and never 
comes. And I knew not why, but I laughed, 
and the sharp needles pierced my heart, and 
right into my ear some one unseen laughed : 

' Ho ! ho ! ho ! ' 



72 THE LIE 

Opening my eyes I looked at the lighted 
windows of the lofty house, and they quietly 
said to me in their blue and red language : 

' Thou art deceived by her. At this very 
moment whilst thou art wandering, waiting, 
and suffering, she, all bright, lovely, and 
treacherous, is there, listening to the whispers 
of that tall, handsome man, who despises 
thee. If thou wert to break in there and 
kill her, thou wouldst be doing a good deed, 
for thou wouldst slay a lie/ 

I gripped the knife I held in my hand 
tighter, and answered laughingly : ' Yes, 
I will kill her.' 

But the windows gazed at me mournfully, 
and added sadly : ' Thou wilt never kill her. 
Never ! because the weapon thou holdest in 
thy hand is as much a lie as are her kisses.' 

The silent shadows of my fellow-watchers 
had disappeared long ago, and I was left 
alone in the cold void, I and the lonely 
tongues of fire shivering with cold and 
despair. The clock in the neighbouring 
church-tower began to strike, and its dismal 
metallic sound trembled and wept, flying 
away into the void, and being lost in the 
maze of silently whirling snowflakes. I began 
to count the strokes, and went into a fit of 
laughter. The clock struck 15 ! The belfry 
was old, and so, too, was the clock, and 



THE LIE 73 

although it indicated the right time, it 
struck spasmodically, sometimes so often 
that the grey, ancient bell-ringer had to 
clamber up and stop the convulsive strokes 
of the hammer with his hand. For whom 
did those senilely tremulous, melancholy 
sounds, which were embraced and throttled 
by the frosty darkness, tell a lie ? So 
pitiable and inept was that useless lie. 

With the last lying sounds of the clock the 
glazed door slammed, and a tall man made 
his way down the steps. 

I saw only his back, but I recognized it as I 
had seen it only last evening, proud and 
contemptuous. I recognized his walk, and 
it was lighter and more confident than in 
the evening : thus had I often left that door. 
He walked, as those do, whom the lying 
lips of a woman have just kissed. 



Ill 

I THREATENED and entreated, grinding my 
teeth : 

' Tell me the truth ! ' 

But with a face cold as snow, while from 
beneath her brows, lifted in surprise, her dark, 
inscrutable eyes shone passionless and mysteri- 
ous as ever, she assured me : 

' But I am not lying to you.' 

She knew that I could not prove her lie, 
and that all my heavy massive structure of 
torturing thought would crumble at one 
word from her, even one lying word. I 
waited for it and it came forth from her 
lips, sparkling on the surface with the colours 
of truth, but dark in its innermost depths : 

' I love thee ! Am not I all thine ? ' 

We were far from the town, and the snow- 
clad plain looked in at the dark windows. 
Upon it was darkness, and around it was 
darkness, gross, motionless, silent, but the 
plain shone with its own latent coruscation, 
like the face of a corpse in the dark. In the 
over-heated room only one candle was burn- 

74 



THE LIE 75 

ing, and on its reddening flame there appeared 
the white reflection of the deathlike plain. 

' However sad the truth may be, I want 
to know it. Maybe I shall die when I 
know it, but death rather than ignorance of 
the truth. In your kisses and embraces I 
feel a lie. In your eyes I see it. Tell me the 
truth and I will leave you for ever,' said I. 

But she was silent. Her coldly searching 
look penetrated my inmost depths, and 
drawing out my soul, regarded it with strange 
curiosity. 

And I cried : ' Answer, or I will kill you ! ' 

' Yes, do ! ' she quietly replied ; ' some- 
times life is so wearisome. But the truth is 
not to be extracted by threat.' 

And then I knelt to her. Clasping her 
hand I wept, and prayed for pity and the truth. 

' Poor fellow ! ' said she, putting her hand 
on my head, ' poor fellow ! ' 

' Pity me,' I prayed, ' I want so much to 
know the truth.' 

And as I looked at her pure forehead, I 
thought that truth must be there behind 
that slender barrier. And I madly wished 
to smash the skull to get at the truth. There, 
too, behind a white bosom beat a heart, and 
I madly wished to tear her bosom with my 
nails, to see but for once an unveiled human 
heart. And the pointed, motionless flame 



76 THE LIE 

of the expiring candle burnt yellow and the 
walls grew dark and seemed farther apart 
and it felt so sad, so lonely, so eery. 

' Poor fellow ! ' she said. ' Poor fellow ! ' 

And the yellow flame of the candle shivered 
spasmodically, burnt low, and became blue. 
Then it went out and darkness enveloped 
us. I could not see her face, nor her eyes, 
for her arms embraced my head and I 
no longer felt the lie. Closing my eyes, I 
neither thought nor lived, but only absorbed 
the touch of her hands, and it seemed to me 
true. And in the darkness she whispered 
in a strangely fearsome voice : 

' Put your arms round me I'm afraid.' 

Again there was silence, and again the 
gentle whisper fraught with fear ! 

' You desire the truth but do I know it 
myself ? And oh ! don't I wish I did ? 
Take care of me ; oh ! I'm so frightened ! * 

I opened my eyes. The paling darkness 
of the room fled in fear from the lofty win- 
dows, and gathering near the walls hid itself 
in the corners. But through the windows 
there silently looked in a something huge, 
deadly-white. It seemed as though some 
one's dead eyes were searching for us, and 
enveloping us in their icy gaze. Presently 
we pressed close together, while she whispered : 

' Oh ! I am so frightened ! ' 



IV 

I KILLED her. I killed her, and when she 
lay a flat, lifeless heap by the window, beyond 
which shone the dead-white plain, I put my 
foot on her corpse, and burst into a fit of 
laughter. It was not the laugh of a madman ; 
oh, no ! I laughed because my bosom heaved 
lightly and evenly, and within it all was 
cheerful, peaceful, and void, and because 
from my heart had fallen the worm which 
had been gnawing it. And bending down 
I looked into her dead eyes. Great, greedy of 
the light, they remained open, and were like 
the eyes of a wax doll so round and dull 
were they, as though covered with mica. 
I was able to touch them with my fingers, 
open and shut them, and I was not afraid, 
because in those black, inscrutable pupils 
there lived no longer that demon of lying 
and doubt, which so long, so greedily, had 
sucked my blood. 

When they arrested me I laughed. And 
this seemed terrible and wild to those who 
seized me. Some of them turned away from 

77 



78 THE LIE 

me in disgust, and went aside ; others ad- 
vanced threateningly straight towards me, 
with condemnation on their lips, but when 
my bright, cheerful glance met their eyes, 
their faces blanched, and their feet became 
rooted to the ground. 

' Mad ! ' they said, and it seemed to me 
that they found comfort in the word, because 
it helped to solve the enigma of how I could 
love and yet kill the beloved and laugh. 
One of them only, a man of full habit and 
sanguine temperament, called me by another 
name, which I felt as a blow, and which 
extinguished the light in my eyes. 

' Poor man ! ' said he in compassion, 
although devoid of anger for he was stout 
and cheerful. ' Poor fellow ! ' 

' Don't ! ' cried I. ' Don't call me that ! ' 

I know not why I threw myself upon him. 
Indeed, I had no desire to kill him, or even 
to touch him ; but all these cowed people 
who looked on me as a madman and a villain, 
were all the more frightened, and cried out 
so that it seemed to me again quite ludicrous. 

When they were leading me out of the room 
where the corpse lay, I repeated loudly and 
persistently, looking at the stout, cheerful 
man : 

' I am happy, happy ! ' 

And that was the truth. 



ONCE, when I was a child, I saw in a mena- 
gerie a panther, which struck my imagina- 
tion and for long held my thoughts captive. 
It was not like the other wild beasts, which 
dozed without thought or angrily gazed at 
the visitors. It walked from corner to corner, 
in one and the same line, with mathematical 
precision, each time turning on exactly the 
same spot, each time grazing with its tawny 
side one and the same metal bar of the cage. 
Its sharp, ravenous head was bent down, and 
its eyes looked straight before it, never once 
turning aside. For whole days a noisily 
chattering crowd trooped before its cage, but 
it kept up its tramp, and never once turned 
an eye on the spectators. A few of the crowd 
laughed, but the majority looked seriously, 
even sadly, at that living picture of heavy, 
hopeless brooding, and went away with a 
sigh. And as they retired, they cast once 
more round at her a doubting, inquiring 
glance and sighed as though there was 

79 



8o THE LIE 

something in common between their own 
lot, free as they were, and that of the un- 
happy, eager wild beast. And when later 
on I was grown up, and people, or books, 
spoke to me of eternity, I called to mind the 
panther, and it seemed to me that I knew 
eternity and its pains. 

Such a panther did I become in my stone 
cage. I walked and thought. I walked 
in one line right across my cage from corner 
to corner, and along one short line travelled 
my thoughts, so heavy that it seemed that 
my shoulders carried not a head, but a whole 
world. But it consisted of but one word, 
but what an immense, what a torturing, 
what an ominous word it was. 

' Lie ! ' that was the word. 

Once more it crept forth hissing from all 
the corners, and twined itself about my soul ; 
but it had ceased to be a little snake, it had 
developed into a great, glittering, fierce ser- 
pent. It bit me, and stifled me in its iron 
coils, and when I began to cry out with pain, 
as though my whole bosom were swarming 
with reptiles, I could only utter that abomin- 
able, hissing, serpent-like sound : ' Lie ! ' 

And as I walked, and thought, the grey 
level asphalt of the floor changed before my 
eyes into a grey, transparent abyss. My 
feet ceased to feel . the touch of the floor, and 



THE LIE 81 

I seemed to be soaring at a limitless height 
above the fog and mist. And when my 
bosom gave forth its hissing groan, thence 
from below from under that rarifying, but 
still impenetrable shroud, there slowly issued 
a terrible echo. So slow and dull was it, as 
though it were passing through a thousand 
years. And every now and then, as the fog 
lifted, the sound became less loud, and I 
understood that there below it was still 
whistling like a wind, that tears down the 
trees, while it reached my ears in a short, 
ominous whisper : 

' Lie ! ' 

This mean whisper worked me up into a 
rage, and I stamped on the floor and cried : 

' There is no lie ! I killed the lie.' 

Then I purposely turned aside, for I knew 
what it would reply. And it did reply slowly 
from the depths of the bottomless abyss : 

' Lie ! ' 

The fact is, as you perceive, that I had made 
a grievous mistake. I had killed the woman, 
but made the lie immortal. Kill not a 
woman till you have, by prayer, by fire, and 
torture, torn from her soul the truth ! 

So thought I, and continued my endless 
tramp from corner to corner of the cell. 



L..V. 



VI 



DARK and terrible is the place to which she 
had carried the truth, and the lie and I am 
going thither. At the very throne of Satan 
I shall overtake her, and falling on my knees 
will weep ; and cry : 

' Tell me the truth ! ' 

But God ! This is also a lie. There, there 
is darkness, there is the void of ages and of 
infinity, and there she is not she is nowhere. 
But the lie remains, it is immortal. I feel it 
in every atom of the air, and when I breathe, 
it enters my bosom with a hissing, and then 
rends it yes, rends ! 

Oh ! what madness it is to be man and to 
seek the truth ! What pain ! 

Help! Help! 



82 



AN ORIGINAL 

A MOMENT of silence had fallen on the com- 
pany, and amid the clatter of knives on plates, 
and the confused talk at distant tables, the 
frou-frou of a dress, and the creaking of the 
floor under the brisk steps of the waiters, 
some one's quiet, meek voice was heard : 

' But I do love negresses.' 

Anton Ivanovich coughed over himself the 
vodka he was in the act of swallowing, and a 
waiter, who was collecting the plates, cast a 
glance of ^discriminate curiosity from under 
his brows. All turned with surprise to the 
speaker, and then for the first time took 
notice of the irregular little face with its red 
moustache, the ends of which were wet with 
vodka and soup, of the two dull, colourless 
little eyes, and of the carefully brushed head 
of Semyon Vasilyevich Kotel'nikov. For five 
years they had been in the same service as 
Kotel'nikov, every day they had said ' How 
do you do ? ' and ' Good-bye ' to him, and 

83 



84 AN ORIGINAL 

talked to him about something or other ; on 
the 20th of every month, after receiving their 
stipends, they had dined at the same restaur- 
ant as Kotel'nikov, as they were doing to- 
day ; and now for the first time they were 
really conscious of his presence. They per- 
ceived him, and were astonished. It seemed 
that Semyon Vasilyevich was not so bad 
looking after all, if you did not count the 
moustache, and the freckles which were like 
splashes of mud from a rubber tyre, that he 
was decently well dressed, and his tall white 
collar, though a paper one, was at all events 
clean. 

Anton Ivanovich, head of the office, cough- 
ing and still red with the exertion, looked at 
the confused Semyon Vasilyevich attentively, 
with curiosity in his prominent eyes, and 
still choking, asked with emphasis : 

' So you, Semyon, ah ! I beg your pardon, 
I forget/ 

' Semyon Vasilyevich/ Kotel'nikov re- 
minded him, pronouncing it, not ' Vasilich/ 
but fully ' Vasilyevich ' ; and this pronuncia- 
tion was pleasing to all as expressive of a 
feeling of worth and self-respect. 

' So you, Semyon Vasilyevich love ne- 
gresses ? ' 

' Yes, I do, indeed/ 

And his voice, although rather weak, and, 



AN ORIGINAL 85 

so to speak, somewhat wrinkled like a shriv- 
elled turnip, was nevertheless pleasant. An- 
ton Ivanovich pursed up his lower lip so that 
his grey moustache pressed against the tip of 
his red pitted nose, took in all the officials 
with his rounded eyes, and after an unavoid- 
able pause emitted a fat unctuous laugh. 

' Ha, ha, ha ! He loves negresses ! Ha, 
ha, ha ! ' 

And all laughed in a friendly manner, even 
the stout dour Polzikov, who as a rule knew 
not how to laugh, gave a sickly neigh : ' Hee, 
hee ! hee ! ' 

Semyon Vasilyevich laughed also, with a 
low staccato laugh, like a parched pea ; he 
blushed with pleasure, but at the same time 
was rather afraid that some unpleasantness 
might arise. 

' Are you really serious ? ' asked Anton 
Ivanovich, when he had done laughing. 

' Perfectly serious, sir. In them, those 
black women, there is something so ardent, 
or so to speak exotic.' 

' Exotic ? ' 

And once more all spluttered with laughter. 
But, though they laughed, they considered 
Semyon Vasilyevich quite a clever and edu- 
cated man, since he knew such a rare word 
as ' exotic/ Then they began to argue with 
warmth that it was impossible for any one 



86 AN ORIGINAL 

to love a negress : they were black and 
greasy, they had such impossible thick lips, 
and smelt too strong of musk. 

' But I love them/ modestly persisted 
Semyon Vasilyevich. 

' Every one to his choice/ said Anton 
Ivanovich with decision ; ' but I would 
rather fall in love with a nanny-goat than 
with one of those blacks.' 

But all were pleased that among them in 
the person of one of their own comrades there 
was to be found such an original person, that 
he loved negresses, and to honour the occa- 
sion they ordered another half-dozen of beer, 
and began to look with a certain contempt 
on the neighbouring tables, at which there 
sat no original people. They began to talk 
louder and with more freedom, and Semyon 
Vasilyevich left off striking matches for his 
cigarette, but waited till the attendant offered 
him a light. When the beer was all drunk 
up, and they had ordered more, the stout 
Polzikov looked sternly at Semyon Vasilye- 
vich, and said reproachfully : 

' How is it, Mr. Kotel'nikov, that we have 
never got beyond the " you " stage ? Do not 
we serve in the same office ? We must drink 
to Comradeship, since you are such an ex- 
cellent fellow.' 

' Certainly, I shall be delighted/ Semyon 



AN ORIGINAL 87 

Vasilyevich consented. He beamed now with 
delight that at last they recognized and 
appreciated him, and then again feared some- 
how that they would thrash him ; at all 
events he kept his arm across his breast, to 
be ready, in case of need, to protect his face 
and well-brushed hair. After Polzikov he 
drank to Comradeship with Troitzky and 
Novosyolov and the rest, and kissed them so 
heartily that his lips became swollen. Anton 
Ivanovich did not offer to drink to Comrade- 
ship, but politely remarked : 

' When you are passing our way, please 
call. Although you love negresses, still I 
have daughters, and it will interest them to 
see you. So you are really in earnest ? ' 

Semyon Vasilyevich bowed, and although 
he was a bit unsteady from the amount of 
beer he had drunk, still all remarked that his 
manners were good. When Anton Ivanovich 
went away they were still drinking, and after- 
wards went noisily, the whole company, on 
to the Nevsky, where they gave way to none, 
but made all give way to them. Semyon 
Vasilyevich walked in the middle, arm in 
arm with Troitzky and the sombre Polzikov, 
and explained to them : 

' Nay, friend Kostya, you don't understand 
the matter. In negresses there is something 
peculiar, something, so to speak, exotic.' 



88 AN ORIGINAL 

' And I don't want to understand ! They 
are black black nothing else.' 

' Nay, friend Kostya, this is a matter re- 
quiring taste. Negresses are ' 

Until that day Semyon Vasilyevich had 
never even thought of negresses, and could 
not more exactly define what there was so 
desirable about them, so he repeated : 

' My friend, they are ardent.' 

' Now, then, Kostya, what are you quarrel- 
ling about ? ' angrily asked Troitzky, as he 
tripped up, and sploshed in a big swapped 
galoche. ' You are a wonderful fellow for 
arguing ; you never agree with any one. 
Of course, he knows why he loves negresses. 
Drive on, Senya ! * love away ! don't listen 
to fools ! You're a brave fellow ; we'll get 
up a scandal before long. Lord ! what a 
devil he is ! ' 

' Black black nothing more,' Polzikov 
morosely insisted. 

' Nay, Kostya, you don't understand the 
matter,' Semyon Vasilyevich mildly declared ; 
and so they went on, rolling and racketting, 
quarrelling, and jostling one another, but 
thoroughly contented. 

At the end of a week the whole Department 
knew that the civil servant, Kotel'nikov, was 
very fond of negresses. By the end of a 
1 Short for Semyon. Tr. 



AN ORIGINAL 89 

month the porters of the neighbouring houses, 
the petitioners, and the policeman on duty 
at the corner, knew it too. The ladies who 
worked the typewriters took to looking at 
Semyon Vasilyevich from the adjoining 
rooms ; but he sat quiet and modest, and 
still was not sure whether he would be praised 
or thrashed. Already he had been at an 
evening party at Anton Ivanovich's, had 
drunk tea with cherry jam upon a new damask 
table-cloth, and had explained that about 
negresses there was something exotic. The 
ladies looked confused, but the hostess's 
daughter Nastenka, who had read novels, 
blinked her shortsighted eyes, and, adjusting 
her curls, asked : 

' But, why ? ' 

And all were very much pleased ; but when 
the interesting guest had departed they spoke 
of him with the greatest compassion, and 
Nastenka pronounced him the victim of a 
pernicious passion. 

Semyon Vasilyevich had been taken with 
Nastenka ; but since he loved only negresses, 
he determined not to show his liking, and was 
cold and stand-offish, though strictly polite. 
And all the way home he thought of negresses, 
how black and greasy and objectionable they 
were, and at the thought of kissing one of 
them, he felt a sort of heart-burn, and was 



90 AN ORIGINAL 

inclined to weep quietly and to write to his 
mother in the country to come to him. But 
in the night he overcame this attack of 
pusillanimity, and when he appeared at the 
office in the morning, by his whole appear- 
ance, by his red tie, and by the mysterious 
expression of his face, it was abundantly 
clear that this man was very fond indeed of 
negr esses. 

Soon after this, Anton Ivanovich, who took 
an interest in his fate, introduced him to a 
theatrical reporter ; the reporter took him 
and treated him at a cafe-chantant, where 
he presented him to the Manager, Monsieur 
Jacques Ducquelau. 

' Here is a gentleman/ said the reporter, as 
he brought forward the modestly bowing 
Semyon Vasilyevich, ' here is a gentleman 
who is much enamoured of negresses ; no 
one but negresses. He is an extraordinary 
original. Give him encouragement, Jacques 
Ivanovich, for if such people be not encour- 
aged, who should be ? This, Jacques Ivano- 
vich, is a public matter.' 

The reporter slapped Semyon Vasilyevich 
patronizingly on his narrow back, in its 
creaseless, tightly-fitting coat, and the Man- 
ager, a Frenchman, with a fierce black mous- 
tache, cast his eyes up to the sky, as though 
looking for something there, made a gesture 



AN ORIGINAL 91 

of decision, and transfixing the still bowing 
civil servant with his black eyes, said : 

' Negresses ! Excellent ! I have here at 
present three beautiful negresses.' 

Semyon Vasilyevich blanched slightly, but 
M. Jacques was very fond of his own estab- 
lishment, and took no notice. The reporter 
requested ! ' Give him a free ticket, Jacques 
Ivanovich ; a season.' 

From that evening Semyon Vasilyevich be- 
gan to pay court to a negress, Miss Korraito, 
the whites of whose eyes were like saucers, 
with pupils no larger than sloes. And when 
she turned on all this battery and made eyes 
at him, his feet turned cold, and, as he bowed 
hastily, his well-pomatumed head glistened 
under the electric light, and he thought with 
grief of his poor mother who lived in the 
country. 

Of Russian Miss Korraito understood not a 
word, but happily they found plenty of willing 
interpreters, who took to heart the interests 
of the young couple, and accurately trans- 
mitted to Semyon Vasilyevich the gushing 
exclamations of the dusky fair. 

' She says ! " She has never seen such a 
kind, handsome gentleman." Is not that 
right, Miss ? ' 

Miss Korraito would incline her head again 
and again, show her teeth, which were as 



92 AN ORIGINAL 

wide as the keys of a piano, and roll her 
saucers round on every side. And Semyon 
Vasilyevich would unconsciously incline his 
head too, and mutter : 

' Tell her, please, that there is something 
exotic about negresses.' 

And all were satisfied. When Semyon 
Vasilyevich for the first time kissed the hand 
of the negress, there assembled to see it, not 
only all the artistes, but many of the specta- 
tors, and one in particular, an old merchant, 
Bogdan Kornyeich Seliverstov, burst into 
tears from tenderness and patriotic feelings. 
Then they drank champagne. For two days 
Semyon Vasilyevich suffered from a painful 
palpitation of the heart, and did not go to the 
office. Several times he began a letter, 
1 Dear Mamma/ but he was too weak to 
finish it. When he went back to the office 
they invited him to the private room of his 
Excellency. Semyon Vasilyevich smoothed 
with a comb his hair, which had begun to 
stick up during his illness, arranged the dark 
ends of his moustache, so as to speak more 
clearly, and collapsing with dread, went 
in. 

' Look here, is it true, what they tell me, 

that you ' His Excellency hesitated, ' is 

it true that you love negresses ? ' 

' Quite true, your Excellency.' 



AN ORIGINAL 93 

The general concentrated his gaze on his 
poll, on the smooth centre of which two thin 
locks obstinately stuck up and trembled, and 
with some surprise, but at the same time with 
approval, asked : 

' But why do you love them ? ' 

' I cannot say, your Excellency/ replied 
Semyon Vasilyevich, whose courage had 
evaporated. 

1 What do you mean by " I can't say " ? 
Who, then, can say ? But don't be embar- 
rassed, my dear sir. I like my subordinates to 
show self-reliance and initiative in general, 
provided, of course, they do not exceed certain 
legal bounds. Tell me candidly, as though 
you were talking to your father, why do you 
love negresses ? ' 

' There is in them, your Excellency, some- 
thing exotic.' 

That same evening at the general's whist 
table at the English Club, his Excellency, 
when he had dealt the cards with his puffy 
white hands, remarked with assumed care- 
lessness ! 

' There's in my office an official who is 
terribly enamoured of negresses. An ordin- 
ary clerk, if you please.' 

The other three generals were jealous : 
each of them had at his office many officials, 
but they were the most ordinary, colourless, 



94 AN ORIGINAL 

un-original people imaginable, of whom no- 
thing could be said. 

The choleric Anaton Petrovich considered 
long, scored only one out of a certain four, 
and after the next deal said : 

' I too I have a subordinate, whose beard 
is half black and half red.' 

But all understood that the victory was 
on the side of his Excellency ; the subordinate 
mentioned was in no respect responsible for 
the fact that his beard was half black and 
half red, and probably was not even pleased 
to have it so ; while the official in point, in- 
dependently and of his own free will, loved 
negresses ; and such a predilection undoubt- 
edly testified to his originality of taste. But 
his Excellency, as though he remarked no- 
thing, continued : 

' He affirms that in negresses there is some- 
thing exotic' 

The existence in the Second Department of 
an extraordinary original obtained for it 
the most flattering popularity among official 
circles in the Capital, and begat, as is always 
the case, many unsuccessful and pitiful imita- 
tors. A certain grey-haired clerk in the Sixth 
Department, with a large family, who had 
sat unremarked at his table for twenty-eight 
years, proclaimed publicly that he could bark 
like a dog ; and when they only laughed 



AN ORIGINAL 95 

at him, and in all the rooms began to bark, and 
grunt, and neigh, he was put out of counten- 
ance, and took to a fortnight's drink, for- 
getting even to send in a report of sickness, 
as he had always done for the past twenty- 
eight years. Another official, a youngish 
man, pretended to fall in love with the wife 
of the Chinese Ambassador, and for some time 
attracted universal observation, and even 
sympathy. But experienced eyes soon dis- 
tinguished the pitiful, dishonest pretence 
from the true originality, and the failure was 
contemptuously consigned to the abyss of his 
former obscurity. There were other attempts 
of the same kind, and among the officials 
in general there was remarked this year a 
peculiar elation of spirit, and a long-hidden 
desire for originality seized the youths of 
the service with particular severity, and in 
some cases even led to tragic consequences. 
Thus one clerk, of good birth, being unable 
to invent anything original, had the impu- 
dence to insult his superior, and was promptly 
cashiered. Even against Semyon Vasilyevich 
there rose up enemies, who openly affirmed 
that he knew nothing whatever about 
negresses. But as an answer to them there 
appeared in one of the dailies an interview 
in which^Semyon Vasilyevich publicly] de- 
clared, with the permission of his chief, that 



96 AN ORIGINAL 

he loved negresses because there was some- 
thing exotic in them. And the star of Sem- 
yon Vasilyevich shone out with a new, un- 
dimming light. 

At Anton Ivanovich's evenings he was now 
the most desirable guest, and Nastenka more 
than once wept bitterly, so sorry was she for 
his ruined youth ; but he would sit proudly 
at the very middle of the table, and feeling 
himself the cynosure of all eyes, put on a 
somewhat melancholy, but at the same time 
exotic face. And to all, to Anton Ivano- 
vich himself, to his guests, and even to the 
deaf old woman who washed up the dirty 
things in the kitchen, it was a pleasure to 
know that such an original man visited their 
house quite without ceremony. But Sem- 
yon Vasilyevich went home and wept upon 
his pillow, because he loved Nastenka ex- 
ceedingly, and hated the damned Miss Kor- 
raito with all his soul. 

Before Easter there was a report that 
Semyon Vasilyevich was going to marry Miss 
Korraito the negress, who for that reason 
would adopt Orthodoxy and leave the ser- 
vice of M. Jacques Ducquelau, and that his 
Excellency himself would give away the 
bride. Fellow civil-servants, petitioners, and 
porters congratulated Semyon Vasilyevich ; 
and he bowed, only not so low as before, but 



AN ORIGINAL 97 

still more politely, and his bald, polished head 
glistened in the rays of the spring sunshine. 

At the last evening party given by Anton 
Ivanovich before the wedding, he was a posi- 
tive hero ; but Nastenka every half-hour or 
so ran off to her own room to cry, and then 
so powdered herself, that the powder was 
scattered from her face like flour from a mill- 
stone, and both her neighbours became cor- 
respondingly whitened. At supper all con- 
gratulated the bridegroom and drank' his 
health ; but Anton Ivanovich, as he took his 
leave of his guests, said : 

' There is one interesting question, my 
friend, what colour will your children be ? ' 

' Striped/ glumly said Polzikov. 

' How striped ? ' asked the guests in sur- 
prise. 

' Why, in this way : one stripe white, and 
one black, then another white, and so on/ 
Polzikov explained quite despondently, for 
he was sorry with all his heart for his old 
friend. 

' That's impossible ! ' excitedly exclaimed 
Semyon Vasilyevich, who had grown pale at 
the thought. But Nastenka, no longer able 
to contain herself, burst out sobbing and ran 
out of the room, whereby she caused univer- 
sal confusion. 

For two years Semyon Vasilyevich was the 



98 AN ORIGINAL 

happiest of men, and all rejoiced when they 
looked at him, and recalled his unusual fate. 
Once he was invited, together with his spouse, 
to his Excellency's ; and on the birth of a 
boy he received considerable assistance from 
the reserve fund, and soon after that he was 
promoted, out of his turn, to be assistant 
secretary of the fourth office of the depart- 
ment. And the child was born not striped, 
but only slightly grey, or rather olive-col- 
oured. Everywhere Semyon Vasilyevich 
talked of his warm love for his wife and son ; 
but he was never in a hurry to return home, 
and when he did get there he was in no hurry 
to pull the bell-handle. But when there 
met him on the threshold those teeth broad 
as piano-keys, and the white saucers rolled, 
and when his smoothly brushed head was 
pressed against something black, greasy, and 
smelling of musk, he felt quite faint with 
grief, and thought of those happy people who 
had white wives and white children. 

' Dear ! ' said he submissively, and on the 
insistence of the happy mother went to look 
at the baby. He hated that thick-lipped baby 
of a greyish colour like asphalt, but he obed- 
iently nursed it, meditating in the depths of 
his soul on the possibility of dropping it 
suddenly on the floor. 

After long vacillation and hidden sighs he 



AN ORIGINAL 99 

wrote to his mother in the country about his 
marriage, and to his surprise received from 
her a most joyful answer. She also was 
pleased at having such an original for her 
son, and that his Excellency himself had 
given away the bride. But with regard to 
the colour, and other disabilities of the bride, 
she expressed herself thus : 

' Let her face be that of a sheep, if only her 
soul be human.' 

At the end of two years Semyon Vasilye- 
vich died of typhus fever. Before the end he 
sent for the parish priest, who looked with 
curiosity on the quondam Miss Korraito, 
stroked his full beard, and said meaningly, 
' N . . . y . . es ! ' But it was evident that 
he respected Semyon Vasilyevich for his ori- 
ginality, although he looked on it as sinful. 

When his reverence stooped down to the 
dying man, the latter gathered together the 
remnants of his strength, and opened his 
mouth wide to cry : 

' I hate that black devil ! ' 

But he recalled his Excellency, and the 
help from the reserve fund, he recalled the 
kindly Anton Ivanovich, and Nastenka, and 
looking at the black weeping countenance, 
said softly : 

' Father, I love negresses very much. In 
them there is something exotic.' 



ioo AN ORIGINAL 

With his last efforts he gave to his emaci- 
ated face the semblance of a happy smile, and 
expired with it on his lips. 

And the earth received him without emo- 
tion, not asking whether he loved negresses 
or no, brought his body to corruption, min- 
gled his bones with those of other dead peo- 
ple, and annihilated every trace of the white 
paper-collar. 

But the Second Department long cherished 
the memory of Semyon Vasilyevich, and when 
the waiting petitioners began to grow weary, 
the porter would take them to his room to 
smoke, and would tell them tales of the 
wonderful civil-servant who was so awfully 
fond of negresses. And all, narrator and 
listeners, were pleased. 



PETKA AT THE BUNGALOW 

OSIP ABRAMOVICH, the barber, arranged a 
dirty sheeting on his customer's chest, and 
tucking it into his collar, shouted abruptly in 
a sharp tone, ' Boy ! water ! ' 

The customer, examining his face in the 
glass with that sharpened intentness and in- 
terest which is exhibited only at the barber's, 
observed that another pimple had appeared 
on his chin, and turning his eyes away in 
dissatisfaction they fell straight on a thin 
little hand, which stretched out from some- 
where at the side, and put a tin of hot water 
down on the ledge below the looking-glass. 
When he raised his eyes still higher, they 
caught the strange and distorted looking re- 
flection of the barber, and he noticed the sharp 
threatening glance which he was casting down 
on the head of some one, and the silent move- 
ments of his lips, caused by an inaudible but 
expressive whisper. If the master himself 
was not doing the shaving but one of the 
assistants, Prokopy or Mikhailo, then the 

101 



102 PETKA AT THE BUNGALOW 

whisper would become loud, and take the 
form of a vague threat : 

' Just you wait ! ' 

This meant that the boy was not quick 
enough with the water, and that punishment 
awaited him. ' Serve 'm right too/ thought 
the customer, bending his head down side- 
ways, and contemplating the great moist 
hand by the side of his nose, three fingers 
of which were spread out, while the fore- 
finger and thumb, all sticky and smelly, gently 
touched cheek and chin as the blunt razor, 
with a disagreeable grating noise, took off the 
lather, and with it the stiff bristles of his 
beard. 

At this barber's shop, permeated with the 
oppressive smell of cheap scents, full of tire- 
some flies and of dirt, the customers were not 
very exacting. They consisted of hall-porters, 
overseers, and sometimes minor officials, or 
workmen, and often coarsely handsome but 
suspicious-looking fellows with ruddy cheeks, 
slender moustaches, and insolent oleaginous 
eyes. 

Close by was a quarter full of houses of 
cheap debauchery. They lorded it over the 
whole neighbourhood, and gave to it a special 
character of something dirty, disorderly and 
disquieting. 

The boy, who was called out to most fre- 



PETKA AT THE BUNGALOW 103 

quently, was named Petka, and was the 
smallest of all who served in the establish- 
ment. The other boy Nikolka was his elder 
by three years, and would soon develop into 
an assistant. Already when a more than 
ordinarily humble customer looked in, and 
the assistants in the absence of the master 
were too lazy to work, they would set Nikolka 
to cut his hair, and laugh when he had to raise 
himself on tiptoe to see the back hair of 
some fat dvornik. Sometimes the customer 
would be offended that his hair was badly 
cut and utter a loud complaint, and then the 
assistants would scold Nikolka, not seriously, 
but only to satisfy the cropped lout. But 
such cases were not of frequent occurrence, 
and Nikolka gave himself the airs of a man ; 
he smoked cigarettes, spat through his teeth, 
used bad language, and even boasted to 
Petka that he drank vodka ; but there he 
probably lied. In company with the assis- 
tants he would run to the neighbouring street 
to look on at a coarse fight, and when he came 
back laughing with delight, Osip Abramovich 
would give him a couple of smacks, one on 
each cheek. 

Petka was only ten years old. He did not 
smoke, or drink vodka, or swear, though he 
knew plenty of bad words, and in all these 
respects he envied his companion. When 



104 PETKA AT THE BUNGALOW 

there were no customers, and Prokopy, who 
usually had spent a sleepless night somewhere 
or other, and in the daytime would drowsily 
stumble about and throw himself into the 
dark corner behind the partition, and Mikhailo 
was reading the Police News, and amongst 
the accounts of thefts and robberies was look- 
ing out for the name of some regular customer, 
Petka and Nikolka would chat together. The 
latter was kinder when the two were alone 
together, and used to explain to the younger 
the meaning of the terms used to describe the 
various styles of hair-cutting. 

Sometimes they sat at the window, by 
the side of a half-length figure of a female 
in wax with pink cheeks, staring glass eyes, 
and straight sparse eyelashes, and looked 
out on the boulevard, where life had been 
stirring since the early morning. The trees 
of the boulevard, powdered with dust, 
drooped motionless under the merciless 
burning rays of the sun, and afforded an 
equally grey, unrefreshing shade. On all 
the benches were seated men and women 
in dirty, uncouth attire, without kerchiefs 
or hats, just as though they lived there and 
had no other home. Whether the faces 
were indifferent, malignant, or dissolute, 
on all alike was impressed the stamp of 
utter weariness and contempt of their sur- 



PETKA AT THE BUNGALOW 105 

roundings. Ofttimes a frowsy head would 
nod helplessly on a shoulder, and the body 
would try to stretch itself out to sleep like 
a third-class passenger after an unbroken 
journey of one thousand versts, but there 
was nowhere to lie down. The park-keeper, 
in a bright blue uniform with a cane in his 
hand, walked up and down the pathways, 
looking out that no one lay down on the 
benches, or threw himself upon the grass, 
which, though parched by the sun, was still 
so soft, so cool. The women, for the most 
part more neatly dressed, and even with a 
hint at fashion, were seemingly all of one 
type of countenance and of one age ; al- 
though here and there might be found some 
old, and others quite young, almost children. 
All of these talked with hoarse, harsh voices ; 
and scolded, embracing the men as simply 
as though they were alone on the boulevard. 
Sometimes they would take a snack and a 
drop of vodka. It might happen that a 
drunken man would beat an equally drunken 
woman. She would fall down, and get up 
again, and fall down again, but no one would 
take her part. Only the faces of the crowd 
as they gathered round the couple would 
light up with some intelligence and anima- 
tion, and wear a broader grin. But when 
the blue-coated keeper drew near, they 



106 PETKA AT THE BUNGALOW 

would listlessly disperse to their former 
places. Only the ill-used woman would 
keep on weeping, uttering meaningless oaths, 
with her rumpled hair covered with sand, 
and her semi-made bust looking dirty and 
yellow in the morning light, cynically and 
piteously exposed. They would put her 
on the bottom of a cab and drive her off 
with her head hanging down, and swaying, 
as if she were dead. 

Nikolka knew several of the men and 
women by name, and told Petka nasty 
stories about them, and laughed showing 
his sharp teeth. And Petka admired his 
knowledge and daring, and thought that 
some day he would be like him. But mean- 
while he wanted to be somewhere else. 
Wanted badly ! 

Petka's days dragged on wonderfully 
monotonously, as like to one another as two 
brothers. Summer and winter alike he 
saw the same mirrors, one of which was 
cracked, and another was contorted and 
amusing. On the stained wall hung one 
and the same picture, representing two half- 
dressed women on the sea-shore, the only 
difference being that their pink bodies 
became more spotted with fly dirt, and 
that the black patch of soot became larger 
above the place where the common kero- 



PETKA AT THE BUNGALOW 107 

sene lamp gleamed all the whole winter's 
day. And morning, evening, and the whole 
livelong day, there hung over Petka the 
one and the same abrupt cry, ' Boy, water ! ' 
and he was always bringing it always. 
There were no holidays. On Sundays, when 
the windows of the stores and shops ceased 
to illuminate the street, those of the hair- 
dresser's till late at night cast a bright sheaf 
of light upon the pavement, and the passer- 
by might observe a little thin figure huddled 
upon his seat in the corner, and immersed 
in something between thought and a heavy 
slumber. Petka slept a great deal, but 
still for some reason or other he was always 
wanting to sleep, and it often seemed to 
him that all around him was not real, but 
a very unpleasant dream. Ofttimes he 
would spill the water, or fail to hear the 
sharp call, ' Boy, water ! ' He grew thinner 
and thinner, and unsightly scabs came out 
on his closely-cropped head. Even the not 
too fastidious customers looked with aver- 
sion on this thin, freckled boy, whose eyes 
were always sleepy, his mouth half-open, 
and his hands and neck ingrained with dirt. 
Round his eyes and under his nose faint 
lines were forming as though traced by a 
sharp needle, and they made him look like 
an aged dwarf. 



io8 PETKA AT THE BUNGALOW 

Petka did not know whether he was 
happy or unhappy, but he did want to go 
to some other place ; but where, or what, 
that place was he could not have told you. 
When his mother, the cook, Nadejda, paid 
him a visit, he would eat listlessly the sweets 
she brought him. He never, never com- 
plained, but only asked to be taken away 
from the place. But he soon forgot his 
request, and would coolly take leave of his 
mother, without asking when she was com- 
ing again. And Nadejda thought with 
sorrow that she had only one son and that 
one an imbecile. 

How long he had lived in this fashion, 
Petka did not know, when suddenly one 
day his mother came to dinner, had a talk 
with Osip Abramovich, and told Petka 
that he was to be allowed to go to the bun- 
galow at Tzaritzyno, where her master and 
mistress were living. At first, Petka could 
not realize the good news, but after a time 
his face broke out into faint wrinkles of 
soft laughter, and he began to hasten his 
mother's departure. But for decency's 
sake she had to talk to Osip Abramovich 
about his wife's health, while Petka was 
gently dragging her by the hand and shov- 
ing her towards the door. He had no idea 
what a bungalow was like, but he supposed 



PETKA AT THE BUNGALOW 109 

that it must be the very place which he had 
so longed to go to. With simple egotism 
he quite forgot Nikolka, who was standing 
there with his hands in his pockets endea- 
vouring to regard Nadejda with his usual 
insolence. But instead of insolence there 
shone in his eyes a profound grief. He had 
no mother, and at that moment he would 
not have objected to having just such a 
stout one as Nadejda. The fact was that 
he too had never been at a bungalow. 

The railway station with its many voices, 
with its bustle and the rumble of incoming 
trains, and the whistles of the engines, some 
thick and irate like the voice of Osip Abra- 
movich, others thin and shrill like the voice 
of his sickly wife, with its hurrying passengers 
who kept coming and going in a continuous 
stream, as if there were no end to them 
all this presented itself for the first time to 
the puzzled gaze of Petka, and filled him 
with a feeling of excitement and impatience. 
Like his mother, he was afraid of being late, 
though it wanted a good half-hour to the 
time of the departure of the suburban train. 
But when they were once seated in the car- 
riage, and the train had started, he stuck 
to the window, and only his cropped head 
kept turning about on his thin neck, as 
though on a metal spindle. 



no PETKA AT THE BUNGALOW 

Petka had been born and bred in the 
city, and was now in the country for the first 
time in his life, and everything there was 
to him strikingly new and strange ; that 
you could see so far ; that the world looked 
like a lawn ; and that the sky of this new 
world was so wonderfully bright and far- 
stretching just as if you were looking at it 
from the roof of a house ! Petka looked 
at it from his own side, and when he turned 
to his mother, there was the same sky shin- 
ing blue through the opposite window, and 
on its surface were flocking like little 
angels small, merry white flecks of clouds. 
Now Petka would turn back to his own 
window, now run over to the other side of 
the carriage, with confidence laying his ill- 
washed little hands on the shoulders and 
knees of strangers, who answered him back 
with a smile. But one gentleman who was 
reading a newspaper, and yawning all the 
time, either from excessive fatigue or from 
ennui, looked askance at the boy once or 
twice in not too friendly a manner, and 
Nadejda hastened to apologise : 

' It is his first journey by rail and he is 
interested.' 

' Humph/ growled the gentleman, and 
buried himself in his newspaper. 

Nadejda would very much have liked to 



PETKA AT THE BUNGALOW in 

tell him, how that Petka had lived three 
years with a barber, who had promised to 
set him upon his feet ; and that this would 
be a very good thing, since she was a lone 
weak woman, with, no other means of sup- 
port in case of sickness or when she became 
old. But the expression of his face was so 
uninviting, that she kept all this to herself. 

To the right of the railway there was a 
broad stretch of undulating plain, dark 
green with the continual moisture, and on 
its edge there stood grey little houses, just 
like toys, and upon a high green hill, at the 
foot of which flowed a silvery river, was 
perched a similarly toy-like white church. 
When the train, with a noisy metallic clank- 
ing, which suddenly became intensified, 
rushed on to a bridge, and seemed to hang 
suspended in the air over the mirror-like 
surface of a river, Petka gave a little shiver 
of fright and surprise, and started back from 
the window ; but immediately turned to it 
again, for fear of losing a single detail of 
the journey. His eyes had long ceased to 
look sleepy, and the lines had disappeared 
from his face. It was as though some one 
had passed a hot flat-iron over his face, 
smoothing out the wrinkles, and leaving 
the surface white and shining. 

For the first two days of his sojourn at 



H2 PETKA AT THE BUNGALOW 

the bungalow the wealth and force of the 
new impressions which inundated him from 
above and from below confused his timid 
little soul. In contradistinction to the 
savages of a former age, who felt lost on 
coming into a city from the wilderness, this 
modern savage, who had been snatched 
away from the stony embrace of the massive 
city, felt weak and impotent in the face of 
nature. Here everything was to him liv- 
ing, sentient, and possessed of conscious 
will. He was afraid of the forest, which 
gently rustled over his head, and was so 
dark, so passive, so terrible in its immensity. 
But the bright green joyful meadows, which 
seemed to be singing with all their bright 
flowers, he loved, and wished to fondle them 
as a sister ; and the dark blue sky called 
him to itself, and laughed like a mother. 
Petka would become agitated, shudder, 
and grow pale, would smile at something, 
and slowly, like an old man, walk along the 
outskirts of the forest, and on the wooded 
shore of the pond. There, weary and out 
of breath, he would fling himself down on 
the thick damp grass, and sink into it, only 
his little freckled nose appearing above the 
green surface. For the first two days he 
was always going back to his mother, and 
nestling up to her : and when the master 



PETKA AT THE BUNGALOW 113 

of the house asked him whether he liked 
being at the bungalow, he would smile in 
confusion and answer : 

' Very much ! ' 

And then he would go off again to the 
threatening forest, and the still water, and 
it was as though he were questioning them. 

But after two days Petka had arrived 
at a complete understanding with Nature. 
This was brought about by the co-operation 
of a schoolboy named Mitya from old Tzar- 
itzyno. The schoolboy had a swarthy 
countenance, the colour of a second-class 
carriage. His hair stood erect on the crown 
of his head, and was quite white, so bleached 
was it by the sun. He was fishing in the 
pond, when Petka caught sight, of him and 
unceremoniously entered into conversation 
with him. They came to terms with won- 
derful promptitude ; he allowed Petka to 
hold one of the rods, and afterwards took 
him some distance off to bathe. Petka 
was very much afraid of going into the 
water, but when once in, he did not wish 
to come out again, but pretended to swim, 
putting his forehead and nose above the 
water. Then he got a great gulp of water 
in his mouth, and beat the water with his 
hands and made a great splashing. At this 
moment he was very like a puppy, that had 



H4 PETKA AT THE BUNGALOW 

for the first time fallen into the water. 
When Petka dressed himself he was as blue 
as a corpse with the cold, and as he talked 
his teeth chattered. At the proposal of 
Mitya, who was of inexhaustible resource, 
they next explored the ruins of a mansion. 
They clambered upon the roof overgrown 
with shoots, and wandered between the 
broken-down walls of the great building. 
They did enjoy themselves there ! All about 
heaps of stones were piled up, on which they 
climbed with difficulty, and between which 
grew young rowan and birch trees. It was 
still as death, and it seemed as though some 
one suddenly jumped out from a corner, or 
that some horrible, terrible face appeared 
through the aperture left by a broken win- 
dow. By degrees Petka began to feel 
quite at home at the bungalow, and he forgot 
that there was any Osip Abramovich or 
barber's shop in the world. 

' Just look how he is putting on flesh ! 
He's a regular merchant ! ' Nadejda at this 
time would exclaim with delight. 

She was stout enough herself and her face 
shone with the heat of the kitchen like a 
copper samovar. She attributed his im- 
provement to the fact that she gave him 
plenty to eat. But in reality Petka ate 
very little indeed, not because he did not 



PETKA AT THE BUNGALOW 115 

care for his food, but because he could 
scarcely find time for it. If only it had been 
possible to bolt his food without mastica- 
tion ! but one must masticate, and during 
the intervals swing one's feet, since Nadejda 
ate deuced slowly, polishing the bones and 
wiping her fingers on her apron, while she 
kept up a perpetual chatter. But he was 
up to the neck in business : he had to bathe 
four times, to cut a fishing-rod in the hazel 
coppice, to dig for worms all this required 
time. Now Petka ran about bare-foot, 
and that was a thousand times pleasanter 
than wearing boots with thick soles : the 
rustling ground now warmed, now cooled 
his feet so deliciously. He had even dis- 
carded his second-hand school jacket, in 
which he looked like a full-grown master- 
barber, and thereby became amazingly 
rejuvenated. He put it on only in the even- 
ing, when he went and stood on the dam to 
watch the Master and Mistress boating. 
Well-dressed and cheerful they would laugh- 
ingly take their seats in the rocking boat, 
which leisurely ploughed the mirror-like 
surface of the water on which the reflection 
of the trees swayed as though agitated by a 
breeze. 

At the end of the week the Master brought 
from the city a letter addressed ' to Cook 



Nadejda.' When he had read it over to 
her she began to cry, and smeared her face 
all over with the soot which was on her apron. 
From the fragmentary remarks which accom- 
panied this operation, it might be deduced 
that the contents of the letter affected 
Petka. This took place in the evening. 
Petka was playing athletic sports by him- 
self in the back court, and puffing out his 
cheeks, because that made it considerably 
easier to jump. The schoolboy Mitya had 
taught him this stupid but interesting occu- 
pation, and now Petka, like a true ' sports- 
man/ was practising alone. The master 
came out, and laying his hand on his shoul- 
der, said : 

' Well, my friend, you have to go ! ' 

Petka smiled in confusion and said 
nothing. ' What a strange lad/ thought 
the master. 

' Yes, have to go/ 

Petka smiled. Nadejda coming up with 
tears in her eyes repeated : 

' You have to go, sonny/ 

' Where ? ' said Petka in surprise. He 
had forgotten the city ; and the other place, 
to which he had always so wanted to go 
away was found. 

' To your master, Osip Abramovich/ 

Still Petka failed to understand, though 



PETKA AT THE BUNGALOW 117 

the matter was as clear as daylight. But 
his mouth felt suddenly dry, and his tongue 
moved with difficulty as he asked : 

' How then can I go fishing to-morrow ? 
Look, here is the rod/ 

' But what can one do ? He wants you. 
Prokopy, he says, is ill, and has been taken 
to the hospital. He says he has not enough 
hands. Don't cry ! See, he'll be sure to 
let you come again. He is kind is Osip 
Abramovich.' 

But Petka was not thinking of crying, 
and still did not understand. On one side 
there was the fact, the fishing-rod on the 
other the phantom, Osip Abramovich. But 
gradually Petka's thoughts began to clear 
and a strange metamorphosis took place : 
Osip Abramovich became the fact, and the 
fishing-rod, which had not yet had time to 
dry, was changed into the phantom. And 
then Petka surprised his mother, and dis- 
tressed the master and his wife, and would 
have been surprised himself if he had been 
capable of self-analysis. He did not begin 
to cry, as town children, thin and half- 
starved, cry ; he simply bawled louder than 
the strongest- voiced man ; and began to 
roll on the ground, as the drunken women 
rolled on the boulevard. He clenched his 
skinny fists, and struck his mother's hands 



n8 PETKA AT THE BUNGALOW 

and the ground, in fact everything he came 
across, feeling, indeed, the pain caused by 
the pebbles and sharp stones, but striving, 
as it were, to increase it. 

In course of time Petka became calm 
again, and the master said to his wife, who 
was standing before the glass arranging a 
white rose in her hair : 

' You see he has left off. Children's grief 
is not long-lived/ 

' All the same I am very sorry for the poor 
little boy/ 

' Yes, indeed ! they live under terrible 
conditions, but there are people who are 
still worse off. Are you ready ? ' 

And they went off to Digman's Gardens, 
where dances had been arranged for the 
evening, and a military band was already 
playing. 

The next day Petka started for Moscow 
by the 7 a.m. train. Again he saw the green 
fields, grey with the night's dew, only they 
did not now run in the same direction as 
before, but in the opposite. The second- 
hand school jacket enveloped his thin body, 
and from the opening at the neck stuck out 
the corner of a white paper collar. Petka 
did not turn to the window, indeed, he hardly 
looked at it, but sat so still and modest, with 
his little hands primly folded upon his knees. 



PETKA AT THE BUNGALOW 119 

His eyes were sleepy and apathetic, and fine 
wrinkles, as in the case of an old man, gathered 
about his eyes and under his nose. Sud- 
denly the pillars and the planks of the plat- 
form flashed before the window, and the 
train stopped. 

They pressed through the hurrying crowd, 
and came out into the noisy street ; and 
the great, greedy city callously swallowed 
up its little victim. 

' Put away the fishing tackle for me,' said 
Petka, when his mother deposited him at 
the door of the barber's shop. 

' Trust me for that, sonny ! Maybe you 
will come again.' 

And once more in the dirty, stuffy shop 
was heard the sharp call, ' Boy, water ! ' 
and the customer saw a small, dirty hand 
thrust out to the ledge below the mirror, 
and heard the vague, threatening whisper, 
' Just you wait a bit ! ' This meant that 
the sleepy boy had either spilled the water, 
or had bungled the orders. But at nights 
from the place where Nikolka and Petka 
lay side by side, a little low and agitated 
voice might be heard telling about the bunga- 
low, and speaking of what is not, and what 
no one has ever seen or heard. And when 
silence supervened, and only the irregular 
breathing of the children was audible, an- 



120 PETKA AT THE BUNGALOW 

other voice, unusually deep and strong for 
a child, would exclaim : 

' The devils ! May they bu'st ! ' 

' Who are devils ? ' 

' Why, the whole blooming lot, of course ! ' 

A string of carts passed by, and drowned 
the boys' voices with its noisy rumbling ; 
and then that distant cry of complaint was 
heard, which had for long been borne in 
from the boulevard, where a drunken man 
was beating an equally drunken woman. 



SILENCE 
I 

ON a moonlight night in May, when the 
nightingales were singing, his wife came to 
Father Ignaty who was sitting in his study. 
Her face was expressive of suffering, and the 
small lamp trembled in her hand. She 
came up to her husband, touched him on the 
shoulder, and said sobbing : 

' Father, let us go to Verochka ! ' 

Without turning his head, Father Ignaty 
frowned at his wife over his spectacles, and 
looked long and fixedly, until she made a 
motion of discomfort with her free hand, 
and sat down on a low divan. 

' How pitiless you both are/ said she 
slowly and with strong emphasis on the 
word ' both/ and her kindly puffed face was 
contorted with a look of pain and hardness, 
as though she wished to express by her looks 
how hard people were her husband and her 
daughter. 

Father Ignaty gave a laugh and stood up. 
121 



122 SILENCE 

Closing his book, he took off his spectacles, 
put them into their case, and fell into a 
brown study. His big black beard, shot 
with silver threads, lay in a graceful curve 
upon his chest, and rose and fell slowly under 
his deep breathing. 

' Well, then, we will go ! ' said he. 

Olga Stepanovna rose quickly, and asked 
in a timid, ingratiating voice : 

' Only don't scold her, father ! You know 
what she is.' 

Vera's room was in a belvedere at the top 
of the house, and the narrow wooden stairs 
bent and groaned under the heavy steps of 
Father Ignaty. Tall and ponderous, he was 
obliged to stoop so as not to hit his head 
against the ceiling above, and he frowned 
fastidiously when his wife's white jacket 
touched his face. He knew that nothing 
would come of their conversation with Vera. 

' What, is that you ? ' asked Vera, lifting 
one bare arm to her eyes. The other arm 
lay on the top of the white summer counter- 
pane, from which it was scarcely distinguish- 
able, so white, transparent and cold was it. 

' Verochka ! ' the mother began, but gave 
a sob and was silent. 

1 Vera ! ' said the father, endeavouring to 
soften his dry, hard voice. ' Vera, tell us 
what is the matter with you ? ' 



SILENCE 123 

Vera was silent. 

' Vera, are your mother and I undeserving 
of your confidence ? Do we not love you ? 
Have you any one nearer to you than our- 
selves ? Speak to us of your grief, and 
believe me, an old and experienced man, you 
will feel the better for it. And so shall we. 
Look at your old mother, how she is suffering.' 

1 Verochka ! ' 

' And to me ' his voice trembled, as 

though something in it had broken in two, 
' and to me, is it easy, think you ? As 
though I did not see that you were devoured 

by some grief , but what is it ? And I, 

your father, am kept in ignorance. Is it 
right ? ' 

Vera still kept silence. Father Ignaty 
stroked his beard with special precaution, 
as though he feared that his fingers would 
involuntarily begin to tear it, and con- 
tinued : 

' Against my wishes you went to St. 
Petersburg did I curse you for your diso- 
bedience ? Or did I refuse you money ? 
Or do you say I was not kind ? Well, 
why don't you speak ? See, the good your 
St. Petersburg has done you ! ' 

Father Ignaty ceased speaking, and there 
rose before his mind's eye something big, 
granite-built, terrible, full of unknown dan- 



124 SILENCE 

gers, and of strange callous people. And 
there alone and weak was his Vera, and there 
she had been ruined. An angry hatred of 
that terrible incomprehensible city arose in 
Father Ignaty's soul, together with anger 
towards his daughter, who kept silent, so 
obstinately silent. 

' St. Petersburg has nothing to do with 
it,' said Vera crossly, and closed her eyes. 
* But there is nothing the matter with me. 
You had better go to bed, it's late.' 

' Verochka ! ' groaned her mother. ' My 
little daughter confide in me ! ' 

' Oh ! mamma ! ' said Vera, impatiently 
interrupting her. 

Father Ignaty sat down on a chair and 
began to laugh. 

' Well then, nothing is the matter after 
all ? ' he asked ironically. 

' Father,' said Vera, in a sharp voice, raising 
herself up on her bed, ' you know that I love 
you and mamma. But I do feel so dull. 
All this will pass away. Really, you had 
better go to bed. I want to sleep, too. 
To-morrow, or sometime, we will have a 
talk.' 

Father Ignaty rose abruptly, so that his 
chair bumped against the wall, and took his 
wife's arm. 

' Let's go ! ' 



SILENCE 125 

' Verochka ! ' 

' Let's go I tell you/ cried Father Ignaty. 
' If she has forgotten God, shall we too ! 
Why should we ! ' 

He drew Olga Stepanovna away, almost by 
main force, and as they were descending the 
stairs, she, dragging her steps more slowly, 
said in an angry whisper : 

' Ugh ! pope, it's you who have made her 
so. It's from you she has got this manner. 
And you'll have to answer for it. Ah ! how 
wretched I am ' 

And she began to cry, and kept blinking 
her eyes, so that she could not see the steps, 
and letting her feet go down as it were into an 
abyss below into which she wished to pre- 
cipitate herself. 

From that day forward Father Ignaty 
ceased to talk to his daughter, and she seemed 
not to notice the change. As before, she 
would now lie in her room, now go about, 
frequently wiping her eyes with the palms 
of her hands, as though they were obstructed. 
And oppressed by the silence of these two 
people, the pope's wife, who was fond of 
jokes and laughter, became lost and timid, 
hardly knowing what to say or do. 

Sometimes Vera went out for a walk. 
About a week after the conversation related 
above, she went out in the evening as usual. 



126 SILENCE 

They never saw her again alive, for that 
evening she threw herself under a train, 
which cut her in two. 

Father Ignaty buried her himself. His 
wife was not present at the church, because at 
the news of Vera's death she had had a 
stroke. She had lost the use of her feet and 
hands and tongue, and lay motionless in a 
semi-darkened room, while close by her the 
bells tolled in the belfry. She heard them 
all coming out of church, heard the choristers 
singing before their house, and tried to 
raise her hand to cross herself, but the hand 
would not obey her will. She wished to 
say : ' Good-bye, Vera,' but her tongue lay 
inert in her mouth, swollen and heavy. 
She lay so still that any one who saw her 
would have thought that she was resting, or 
asleep. Only her eyes were open. 

There were many people in the church at 
the funeral, both acquaintances of Father 
Ignaty's and strangers. All present com- 
passionated Vera, who had died such a 
terrible death, and they tried in Father 
Ignaty's movements and voice to find signs 
of profound grief. They were not fond of 
Father Ignaty, because he was rough and 
haughty in his manners, harsh and unfor- 
giving with his penitents, while himself jeal- 
ous and greedy, he availed himself of every 



SILENCE 127 

chance to take more than his dues from a 
parishioner. They all wished to see him 
suffering, broken-down ; they wished to see 
him acknowledge that he was doubly guilty 
of his daughter's death as a harsh father, 
and as a bad priest, who could not protect 
his own flesh and blood from sin. So they 
all watched him with curiosity, but he, 
feeling their eyes directed on his broad 
powerful back, endeavoured to straighten it, 
and thought not so much of his dead daughter 
as of not compromising his dignity. 

' A well-seasoned pope/ Karzenov the car- 
penter, to whom he still owed money for some 
frames, said with a nod in his direction. 

And so, firm and upright, Father Ignaty 
went to the cemetery, and came back the 
same. And not till he reached the door of 
his wife's room did his back bend a little ; 
but that might have been because the door 
was not high enough for his stature. Coming 
in from the light he could only with difficulty 
distinguish his wife's face, and when he 
succeeded in so doing, he perceived that it 
was perfectly still and that there were no 
tears in her eyes. In them was there neither 
anger nor grief ; they were dumb, and pain- 
fully, obstinately silent, as was also her 
whole obese feeble body that was pressed 
against the bed-rail. 



i 2 8 SILENCE 

' Well, what ? How are you feeling ? ' 
Father Ignaty inquired. 

But her lips were dumb, and her eyes were 
silent. Father Ignaty laid his hand on her 
forehead ; it was cold and damp, and Olga 
Stepanovna gave no sign whatever that she 
had felt his touch. And when he removed 
his hands from her forehead, two deep, grey 
eyes looked at him without blinking ; they 
seemed almost black on account of the dila- 
tion of the pupils, and in them was neither 
grief nor anger. 

' Well, I will go to 'my own room/ said 
Father Ignaty, who had turned cold and 
frightened. 

He went through the guest-chamber, where 
everything was clean and orderly as ever, 
and the high-backed chairs stood swathed in 
white covers, like corpses in their shrouds. 
At one of the windows hung a wire cage, but 
it was empty and the door was open. 

' Nastasya ! ' Father Ignaty called, and 
his voice seemed to him rough, and he felt 
awkward, that he had called so loud in 
those quiet rooms, so soon after the funeral 
of their daughter. ' Nastasya/ he called 
more gently, ' where's the canary ? ' 

The cook, who had cried so much that her 
nose was swollen and become as red as a 
beet, answered rudely : 



SILENCE 129 

' Don't know. It flew away/ 

' Why did you let it go ? ' said Father 
Ignaty, angrily knitting his brows. 

Nastasya burst out crying, and wiping her 
eyes with the ends of a print kerchief she 
wore over her head, said through her tears : 

' The dear little soul of the young mistress. 
How could I keep it ? ' 

And it seemed even to Father Ignaty that 
the happy little yellow canary, which used 
to sing always with its head thrown back, 
was really the soul of Vera, and that if it had 
not flown away it would have been impossible 
to say that Vera was dead. And he became 
still more angry with the cook, and shouted : 

' Get along ! ' and when Nastasya did not 
at once make for the door, added ' Fool ! ' 



II 



FROM the day of the funeral silence reigned 
in the little house. It was not stillness, for 
that is the mere absence of noise, but it was 
silence which means that those who kept 
silence could, apparently, have spoken if they 
had pleased. So thought Father Ignaty 
when, entering his wife's chamber, he would 
meet an obstinate glance, so heavy that it was 
as though the whole air were turned to lead, 
and was pressing on his head and back. So 
he thought when he examined his daughter's 
music, on which her very voice was impressed ; 
her books, and her portrait, a large one 
painted in colours which she had brought 
with her from St. Petersburg. In examining 
her portrait a certain order was evolved. 

First he would look at her neck, on which 
the light was thrown in the portrait, and 
would imagine to himself a scratch on it, 
such as was on the neck of the dead Vera, and 
the origin of which he could not understand. 
And every time he meditated on the cause. 

130 



SILENCE 131 

If it had been the train which struck it, it 
would have shattered her whole head, and 
the head of the dead Vera was quite uninjured. 

Could it be that some one had touched it 
with his foot when carrying home the corpse ; 
or was it done unintentionally with the nail ? 

But to think long about the details of her 
death was horrible to Father Ignaty, so he 
would pass on to the eyes of the portrait. 
They were black and beautiful, with long 
eyelashes, the thick shadow of which lay 
below, so that the whites seemed peculiarly 
bright, and the two eyes were as though 
enclosed in black mourning frames. The 
unknown artist, a man of talent, had given 
to them a strange expression. It was as 
though between the eyes, and that on which 
they rested, there was a thin, transparent 
film. It reminded one of the black top of a 
grand piano, on which the summer dust 
lay in a thin layer, almost imperceptible, but 
still dimming the brightness of the polished 
wood. And wherever Father Ignaty placed 
the portrait, the eyes continually followed 
him, not speaking, but silent ; and the silence 
was so clear that it seemed possible to hear 
it. And by degrees Father Ignaty came to 
think that he did hear the silence. 

Every morning after the Eucharist Father 
Ignaty would go to the sitting-room, would 



132 SILENCE 

take in at a glance the empty cage, and all 
the well-known arrangement of the room, 
sit down in an arm-chair, close his eyes and 
listen to the silence of the house. It was 
something strange. The cage was gently 
and tenderly silent ; and grief and tears, 
and far-away dead laughter were felt in that 
silence. The silence of his wife, softened 
by the intervening walls, was obstinate, 
heavy as lead ; and terrible, so terrible that 
Father Ignaty turned cold on the hottest 
day. Endless, cold as the grave, mysterious 
as death, was the silence of his daughter. 
It was as though the silence were a torture 
to itself, and as though it longed passion- 
ately to pass into speech, but that something 
strong and dull as a machine, held it motion- 
less, and stretched it like a wire. And then 
somewhere in the far distance, the wire 
began to vibrate and emit a soft, timid, 
pitiful sound. Father Ignaty, with a mix- 
ture of joy and fear, would catch this incipi- 
ent sound, and pressing his hands on the 
arms of the chair, would stretch his head 
forward and wait for the sound to reach him. 
But it would break off, and lapse into silence. 
' Nonsense ! ' Father Ignaty would angrily 
exclaim, and rise from the chair, tall and 
upright as ever. From the window was to 
be seen the market-place, bathed in sunlight, 



SILENCE 133 

paved with round, even stones, and on the 
other side the stone wall of a long, window- 
less storehouse. At the corner stood a cab 
like a statue in clay, and it was incomprehen- 
sible why it continued to stand there, when 
for whole hours together not a single passer- 
by was to be seen. 



Ill 



OUT of the house Father Ignaty had much 
talking to do : with his ecclesiastical sub- 
ordinates, and with his parishioners when 
he was performing his duties ; and sometimes 
with acquaintances when he played with 
them at ' Preference.' But when he returned 
home he thought that he had been all the 
day silent. This came of the fact that with 
none of these people could he speak of the 
question which was the chief and most im- 
portant of all to him, which racked his 
thoughts every night : Why had Vera died ? 

Father Ignaty was unwilling to admit to 
himself that it was impossible now to solve 
this difficulty, and kept on thinking that it 
was still possible. 

Every night and they were all now for 
him sleepless he would recall the moment 
when he and his wife had stood by Vera's 
bed at darkest midnight, and he had en- 
treated her ' Speak ! ' And when in his 
recollections he arrived at that word, even 

134 



SILENCE 135 

the rest of the scene presented itself to him 
as different to what it had really been. His 
closed eyes preserved in their darkness a vivid, 
unblurred picture of that night ; they saw 
distinctly Vera lifting herself up upon her 

bed and saying with a smile But what 

did she say ? And that unuttered word of 
hers, which would solve the whole question, 
seemed so near, that if he were to stretch 
his ear and still the beating of his heart, then, 
then he would hear it and at the same time 
it was so infinitely, so desperately far. 

Father Ignaty would rise from his bed, 
and stretching forth his clasped hands in a 
gesture of supplication, entreat : 

' Vera ! ' 

And silence was the answer he received. 

One evening Father Ignaty went to Olga 
Stepanovna's room, where he had not been 
for about a week, and sitting down near the 
head of her bed, he turned away from her 
doleful, obstinate gaze, and said : 

' Mother ! I want to talk to you about 
Vera. Do you hear ? ' 

Her eyes were silent, and Father Ignaty 
raising his voice began to speak in the loud 
and severe tones with which he addressed 
his penitents : 

' I know you think that I was the cause of 
Vera's death. But consider, did I love her 



136 SILENCE 

less than you ? You judge strangely 1 

was strict, but did that prevent her from 
doing as she pleased ? I made little of the 
respect due to a father ; I meekly bowed my 
neck, when she, with no fear of my curse, went 
away thither. And you mother- 
did not you with tears entreat her to remain, 
until I ordered you to be silent. Am I re- 
sponsible for her being born hard-hearted ? 
Did I not teach her of God, of humility, and 
of love ? 

Father Ignaty gave a swift glance into his 
wife's eyes, and turned away. 

' What could I do with her, if she would 
not open her grief to me. Command ? I 
commanded her. Intreat ? I intreated. 
What ? Do you think I ought to have gone 
down on my knees before the little chit of a 
girl, and wept, like an old woman ! What 
she had got in her head, and where she got 
it, I know not. Cruel, heartless daughter ! ' 

Father Ignaty smote his knees with his 
fists. 

' She was devoid of love that's what it 
was ! I know well enough what she called 
me a tyrant. You she did love, didn't 
she ? You who wept, and humbled your- 
self ? ' 

Father Ignaty laughed noiselessly. 

' Lo o ved ! That's it, to comfort you 



SILENCE 137 

she chose such a death a cruel, disgraceful 
death ! She died on the ballast, in the dirt 

like a d d og, to which some one gives 

a kick on the muzzle.' 

Father Ignaty's voice sounded low and 
hoarse : 

' I'm ashamed ! I'm ashamed to go out 
into the street ! I'm ashamed to come out 
of the chancel ! I'm ashamed before God. 
Cruel, unworthy daughter ! One could curse 
you in your grave ' 

When Father Ignaty glanced again at his 
wife, she had fainted, and did not come to 
herself for some hours. And when she did 
come to herself her eyes were silent, and it 
was impossible to know whether she under- 
stood what Father Ignaty had said to her, 
or no. 

That same night it was a moonlight 
night in July, still, warm, soundless Father 
Ignaty crept on tiptoe, so that his wife and 
her nurse should not hear him, up the stairs 
to Vera's room. The window of the belve- 
dere had not been opened since the death of 
Vera, and the atmosphere was dry and hot, 
with a slight smell of scorching from the iron 
roof, which had become heated during the 
day. There was an uninhabited and de- 
serted feeling about the apartment from which 
man had been absent so long, and in which 



138 SILENCE 

the wood of the walls, the furniture and 
other objects gave out a faint smell of growing 
decay. 

The moonlight fell in a bright stripe across 
the window and floor, and reflected by the 
carefully washed white boards it illumined 
the corners with a dim semi-light, and the 
clean white bed with its two pillows, a big 
one and a little one, looked unearthly and 
ghostly. Father Ignaty opened the window, 
and the fresh air poured into the room in a 
broad stream, smelling of dust, of the neigh- 
bouring river, and the flowering lime, and 
bore on it a scarcely audible chorus, appar- 
ently, of people rowing a boat, and singing 
as they rowed. 

Stepping silently on his naked feet, like a 
white ghost, Father Ignaty approached the 
empty bed, and bending his knees fell face- 
down on the pillows, and embraced them 
the place where Vera's face ought to have 
been. 

He lay long so. The song became louder, 
and then gradually became inaudible ; but 
he still lay there, with his long black hair 
dishevelled over his shoulders and on the bed. 

The moon had moved on, and the room 
had become darker, when Father Ignaty 
raised his head, and throwing into his voice 
all the force of a long suppressed and long 



SILENCE 139 

unacknowledged love, and listening to his 
words, as though not he, but Vera, were 
listening to them, exclaimed : 

' Vera, my daughter ! Do you understand 
what it means, daughter ! Little daughter ! 
My heart ! my blood ! my life ! Your father, 
your poor old father, already grey and 
feeble.' 

His shoulders shook, and all his heavy 
frame was convulsed. With a shudder Father 
Ignaty whispered tenderly, as to a little child : 

' Your poor old father asks you. Yes, 
Verochka, he entreats. He weeps. He who 
never was so wont. Your grief, my little 
daughter, your suffering, are my own. More 
than mine/ 

Father Ignaty shook his head. 

' More, Verochka. What is death to me, 

an old man ? But you . If only you had 

realized, how tender, weak and timid you 
were ! Do you remember how when you 
pricked your finger and the blood came, you 
began to cry. My little daughter ! And 
you do indeed love me, love me dearly, I 
know. Every morning you kiss my hand. 
Speak, speak of what is grieving you and I 
with these two hands will strangle your grief. 
They are still strong, Vera, these hands.' 

His locks shook. 

' Speak ! ' 



140 SILENCE 

He fixed his eyes on the wall, and stretch- 
ing out his hands, cried : 

' Speak.' 

But the chamber was silent, and from the 
far distance was borne in the sound of the 
long and short whistles of a locomotive. 

Father Ignaty, rolling his distended eyes, 
as though there stood before him the frightful 
ghost of a mutilated corpse, slowly raised 
himself from his knees, and with uncertain 
movement lifted his hand, with the fingers 
separated and nervously stretched out, to 
his head. Going out by the door, Father 
Ignaty sharply whispered the word : 

' Speak ! ' 

And silence was the answer he received. 



IV 



THE next day, after an early and solitary 
dinner, Father Ignaty went to the cemetery 
for the first time since the death of his 
daughter. It was close, deserted, and still, 
as though the hot day were but an illumined 
night ; but Father Ignaty, as his habit was, 
with an effort straightened his back, looked 
sternly from side to side, and thought that 
he was the same as heretofore. He did not 
regard the new, but terrible, weakness of his 
legs, nor that his long beard had grown com- 
pletely white, as though bitten by a hard 
frost. The way to the cemetery led through 
the long, straight street, which sloped gently 
upwards, and at the end of which gleamed 
white the roof of the lych-gate, which was 
like a black, ever-open mouth edged with 
gleaming teeth. 

Vera's grave lay in the very depth of the 
cemetery, where the gravelled pathways 
ended ; and Father Ignaty had to wander 
for long on the narrow tracks, along a broken 

141 



142 SILENCE 

line of little mounds which protruded from 
the grass, forgotten of all, deserted of all. 
Here and there he came upon monuments 
sloping and green with age, broken-down 
railings, and great heavy stones cast upon 
the ground, and pressing it with a sort of 
grim senile malignity. 

Vera's grave was next to one of these 
stones. It was covered with new sods, 
already turning yellow, while all around it 
was green. A rowan tree was intertwined 
with a maple, and a widely spreading clump 
of hazel stretched its pliant branches with 
rough furred leaves over the grave. Sitting 
down on the neighbouring tomb, and sighing 
repeatedly, Father Ignaty looked round, cast 
a glance at the cloudless desert sky, in which 
the red-hot disc of the sun hung suspended 
in perfect immobility and then only did 
he become conscious of that profound still- 
ness, like nothing else in the world, which 
holds sway over a cemetery, when there is 
not a breath of wind to rustle the dead leaves. 
And once more the thought came to Father 
Ignaty, that this was not stillness, but 
silence. It overflowed to the very brick 
walls of the cemetery, climbed heavily over 
them, and submerged the city. And its 
end was only there in those grey, stubbornly, 
obstinately silent eyes. 



SILENCE 143 

Father Ignaty shrugged his shoulders, 
which were becoming cold, and let his eyes 
fall on Vera's grave. He gazed long at the 
short little seared stalks of grass, which had 
been torn from the ground somewhere in the 
wide wind-swept fields, and had failed to take 
root in the new soil ; and he could not realize 
that there, under that grass, at a few feet 
from him, lay Vera. And this nearness 
seemed incomprehensible, and imbued his 
soul with a confusion and strange alarm. 
She, of whom he was accustomed to think 
as having for ever disappeared in the dark 
depth of infinity, was here, close and it was 
difficult to understand that nevertheless she 
was not, and never would be again. And 
it seemed to Father Ignaty that if he spoke 
some word, which he almost felt upon his 
lips, or if he made some movement, Vera 
would come forth from the tomb, and stand 
up as tall and beautiful as ever. And that 
not only would she arise ; but that all the 
dead, who could be felt, so awesome in their 
solemn cold silence, would rise too. 

Father Ignaty took off his black wide- 
brimmed hat, smoothed his wavy locks, and 
said in a whisper : 

' Vera ! ' 

He became uneasy lest he should be heard 
by some stranger, and stood upon the tomb 



144 SILENCE 

and looked over the crosses. But there was 
no one near, and he repeated aloud : 

' Vera ! ' 

It was Father Ignaty's old voice, dry and 
exacting, and it was strange that a demand 
made with such force remained without 
answer. 

' Vera ! ' 

Loud and persistently the voice called, 
and when it was silent for a moment it seemed 
as though somewhere below a vague answer 
resounded. And Father Ignaty looked once 
more around, removed his hair from his ears, 
and laid them on the rough prickly sod. 

' Vera ! Speak ! ' 

And Father Ignaty felt with horror that 
something cold as the tomb penetrated his 
ear, and froze the brain, and that Vera spoke 
but what she said was ever the same long 
silence. It became ever more and more 
alarming and terrible, and when Father 
Ignaty dragged his head with an effort from 
the ground, pale as that of a corpse, it seemed 
to him that the whole air trembled and 
vibrated with a resonant silence, as though 
a wild storm had arisen on that terrible sea. 
The silence choked him : it kept rolling 
backwards and forwards through his head 
in icy waves, and stirred his hair ; it broke 
against his bosom, which groaned beneath 



SILENCE 145 

the shocks. Trembling all over, casting from 
side to side quick, nervous glances, he slowly 
raised himself, and strove with torturing 
efforts to straighten his back and to restore the 
proud carriage to his trembling body. And 
in this he succeeded. With slow delibera- 
tion he shook the dust from his knees, put 
on his hat, made the sign of the cross three 
times over the grave, and went with even, 
firm gait, and yet did not recognize the well- 
known cemetery, and lost his way. 

' Lost my way ! ' he laughed, and stood 
still at the branching paths. 

He stood still for a moment, and then 
without thinking turned to the left, because 
it was impossible to stand still and wait. 
The silence pursued him. It rose from the 
green graves ; the grim grey crosses breathed 
it ; it came forth in thin suffocating streams 
from every pore of the ground, which was 
sated with corpses. Father Ignaty's steps 
became quicker and quicker. Dazed, he went 
round the same paths again and again, he 
leapt the graves, stumbled against the rail- 
ings, grasped the prickly tin wreaths, and 
the soft stuff tore to pieces in his hands. 
Only one thought, that of getting out, was 
left in his head. He rushed from side to 
side, and at last ran noiselessly, a tall figure, 
almost unrecognizable in his streaming cas- 

L.A. I0 



146 SILENCE 

sock, with his hair floating on the air. More 
frightened than at the sight of a corpse risen 
from the grave, would have been any one 
who had met this wild figure of a man running, 
leaping, waving his arms if he had recog- 
nized his mad, distorted face, and heard the 
dull rattle that escaped from his open mouth. 

At full run Father Ignaty jumped out 
upon the little square at the end of which 
stood the low white mortuary chapel. In 
the porch on a little bench there dozed an 
old man who looked like a pilgrim from afar, 
and near him two old beggar-women were 
flying at one another, quarrelling and scolding. 

When Father Ignaty reached home, it was 
already getting dark, and the lamp was lit in 
Olga Stepanovna's room. Without change 
of clothes or removing his hat, torn and dusty, 
he came hurriedly to his wife and fell on his 
knees. 

' Mother Olga pity me ! ' he sobbed ; 
' I am going out of my mind.' 

He beat his head against the edge of the 
table, and sobbed tumultuously, painfully, 
as a man does who never weeps. He lifted 
his head, confident that in a moment a 
miracle would be performed, and that his 
wife would speak, and pity him. 

' Dear ! ' 

With his whole big body he stretched out 



SILENCE 147 

towards his wife, and met the look of the 
grey eyes. In them there was neither com- 
passion nor anger. Maybe his wife forgave 
and pitied him, but in those eyes there was 
neither pity nor forgiveness. They were 
dumb and silent. 

And the whole desolate house was silent. 



LAUGHTER 



AT 6.30 I was certain that she would come, 
and I was desperately happy. My coat 
was fastened only by the top button, and 
fluttered in the cold wind ; but I felt no cold. 
My head was proudly thrown back, and my 
student's cap was cocked on the back of my 
head ; my eyes with respect to the men they 
met were expressive of patronage and bold- 
ness, with respect to the women of a seductive 
tenderness. Although she had been my only 
love for four whole days, I was so young, and 
my heart was so rich in love, that I could not 
remain perfectly indifferent to other women. 
My steps were quick, bold and free. 

At 6.45 my coat was fastened by two 
buttons, and I looked only at the women, 
but no longer with a seductive tenderness, 
but rather with disgust. I only wanted one 
woman the others might go to the devil ; 
they only confused me, and with their seeming 

149 



150 LAUGHTER 

resemblance to Her gave to my movements 
an uncertain and jerky indecision. 

At 6.55 I felt warm. 

At 6.58 I felt cold. 

As it struck seven I was convinced that she 
would not come. 

By 8.30 I presented the appearance of the 
most pitiful creature in the world. My coat 
was fastened with all its buttons, collar turned 
up, cap tilted over my nose, which was blue 
with cold ; my hair was over my forehead, 
my moustache and eyelashes were whitening 
with rime, and my teeth gently chattered. 
From my shambling gait, and bowed back, 
I might have been taken for a fairly hale old 
man returning from a party at the almshouse. 

And She was the cause of all this She ! 

' Oh, the Dev ! No, I won't. Perhaps 

she could not get away, or she is ill, or dead. 
She's dead ! ' and I swore. 



II 



' EUGENIA NIKOLAEVNA will be there to- 
night,' one of my companions, a student, 
remarked to me, without the slightest arriere 
pensee. He could not know how that I had 
waited for her in the frost from seven to half- 
past eight. 

' Indeed,' I replied, as in deep thought, 
but within my soul there leapt out : ' Oh, 
the Dev - ! ' ' There ' meant at the Polo- 
zovs' evening party. Now the Polozovs were 
people with whom I was not upon visiting 
terms. But this evening I would be there. 

' You fellows ! ' I shouted cheerfully, ' to- 
day is Christmas Day, when everybody 
enjoys himself. Let us do so too.' 

' But how ? ' one of them mournfully re- 
plied. 

' And where ? ' continued another. 

' We will dress up, and go round to all the 
evening parties,' I decided. 

And these insensate individuals actually 
became cheerful. They shouted, leapt, and 

151 



152 LAUGHTER 

sang. They thanked me for my suggestion, 
and counted up the amount of ' the ready ' 
available. In the course of half an hour we 
had collected all the lonely, disconsolate 
students in town ; and when we had recruited 
a cheerful dozen or so of leaping devils, we 
repaired to a hairdresser's he was also a 
costumier and let in there the cold, and 
youth, and laughter. 

I wanted something sombre and handsome, 
with a shade of elegant sadness ; so I re- 
quested : 

' Give me the dress of a Spanish grandee.' 

Apparently this grandee had been very 
tall, for I was altogether swallowed up in his 
dress, and felt there as absolutely alone as 
though I had been in a wide, empty hall. 
Getting out of this costume, I asked for 
something else. 

' Would you like to be a clown ? Motley 
with bells.' 

' A clown, indeed ! ' I exclaimed with con- 
tempt. 

' Well, then, a bandit. Such a hat and 
dagger ! ' 

Oh ! dagger ! Yes, that would suit my 
purpose. But unfortunately the bandit 
whose clothes they gave me had scarcely 
grown to full stature. Most probably he 
had been a corrupt youth of eight years. 



LAUGHTER 153 

His little hat would not cover the back of 
my head, and I had to be dragged out of his 
velvet breeks as out of a trap. A page's 
dress was no go : it was all spotted like the 
pard. The monk's cowl was all in holes. 

' Look sharp ; it's late,' said my com- 
panions, who were already dressed, trying to 
hurry me up. 

There was but one costume left that of a 
distinguished Chinaman. ' Give me the 
Chinaman's,' said I with a wave of my hand. 
And they gave it me. It was the devil knows 
what ! I am not speaking of the costume 
itself. I pass over in silence those idiotic 
flowered boots, which were too short for me, 
and reached only half-way to my knees ; but 
in the remaining, by far the most essential 
part, stuck out like two incomprehensible 
adjuncts on either side of my feet. I say 
nothing of the pink rag which covered my 
head like a wig, and was tied by threads to 
my ears, so that they protruded and stood 
up like a bat's. But the mask ! 

It was, if one may use the expression, a face 
in the abstract. It had nose, eyes, and mouth 
all right enough, and all in the proper places ; 
but there was nothing human about it. A 
human being could not look so placid even 
in his coffin. It was expressive neither of 
sorrow, nor cheerfulness, nor surprise it 



154 LAUGHTER 

expressed absolutely nothing ! It looked at 
you squarely, and placidly and an uncon- 
trollable laughter overwhelmed you. My 
companions rolled about on the sofas, sank 
impotently down on the chairs, and gesticu- 
lated. 

' It will be the most original mask of the 
evening,' they declared. 

I was ready to weep ; but no sooner did I 
glance in the mirror than I too was convulsed 
with laughter. Yes, it will be a most original 
mask ! 

' In no circumstances are we to take off 
our masks,' said my companions on the way. 
' We will give our word.' 

' Honour bright ! ' 



Ill 

POSITIVELY it was the most original mask. 
People followed me in crowds, turned me 
about, jostled me, pinched me. But when, 
harried, I turned on my persecutors in anger 
uncontrollable laughter seized them. Where- 
ever I went, a roaring cloud of laughter 
encompassed and pressed on me ; it moved 
together with me, and I could not escape 
from this circle of mad mirth. Sometimes 
it seized even myself, and I shouted, sang, 
and danced till everything seemed to go 
round before me, as if I was drunk. But 
how remote everything was from me ! And 
how solitary was I under that mask ! At last 
they left me in peace. With anger and fear, 
with malice and tenderness intermingling, 
I looked at her. 

' Tis I.' 

Her long eyelashes were lifted slowly in 
surprise, and a whole sheaf of black rays 
flashed upon me, and a laugh, resonant, 
joyous, bright as the spring sunshine a laugh 
answered me. 

155 



156 LAUGHTER 

' Yes, it is I ; I, I say/ I insisted with a 
smile. ' Why did you not come this even- 
ing ? ' 
'But she only laughed, laughed joyously. 

' I suffered so much ; I felt so hurt/ said 
I, imploring an answer. 

But she only laughed. The black sheen of 
her eyes was extinguished, and still more 
brightly her smile lit up. It was the sun 
indeed, but burning, pitiless, cruel. 

' What's the matter with you ? ' 

' Is it really you ? " said she, restraining 
herself. ' How comical you are ! ' 

My shoulders were bowed, and my head 
hung down such despair was there in my 
pose. And while she, with the expiring 
afterglow of the smile upon her face, looked 
at the happy young couples that hurried by 
us, I said : ' It's not nice to laugh. Do 
you not feel that there is a living, suffering 
face behind my ridiculous mask and can't 
you see that it was only for the opportunity 
it gave me of seeing you that I put it on ? 
You gave me reason to hope for your love, 
and then so quickly, so cruelly deprived me 
of it. Why did you not come ? ' 

With a protest on her tender, smiling lips, 
she turned sharply to me, and a cruel laugh 
utterly overwhelmed her. Choking, almost 
weeping, covering her face with a fragrant 



LAUGHTER 157 

lace handkerchief, she brought out with diffi- 
culty : ' Look at yourself in the mirror 
behind. Oh, how droll you are ! ' 

Contracting my brows, clenching my teeth 
with pain, with a face grown cold, from which 
all the blood had fled, I looked at the mirror. 
There gazed out at me an idiotically placid, 
stolidly complacent, inhumanly immovable 
face. And I burst into an uncontrollable 
fit of laughter. And with the laughter not 
yet subsided, but already with the trembling 
of rising anger, with the madness of despair, 
I said nay, almost shouted : 

' You ought not to laugh ! ' 

And when she was quiet again I went on 
speaking in a whisper of my love. I had 
never spoken so well, for I had never loved so 
strongly. I spoke of the tortures of expecta- 
tion, of the venomous tears of mad jealousy 
and grief, of my own soul which was all love. 
And I saw how her drooping eyelashes cast 
thick dark shadow over her blanched cheeks. 
I saw how across their dull pallor the fire, 
bursting into flame, threw a red reflection, 
and how her whole pliant body involuntarily 
bent towards me. 

She was dressed as the Goddess of Night, 
and was all mysterious, clad in a black, mist- 
like face, which twinkled with stars of brilli- 
ants/ -She was beautiful as a forgotten dream 



158 LAUGHTER 

of far-off childhood. As I spoke my eyes 
filled with tears, and my heart beat with 
gladness. And I perceived, I perceived at 
last, how a tender, piteous smile parted 
her lips, and her eyelashes were lifted all 
a-tremble. Slowly, timorously, but with 
infinite confidence, she turned her head 
towards me, and 

And such a shriek of laughter I never 
heard ! 

' No, no,, I can't,' she almost groaned, and 
throwing back her head, she burst into a 
resonant cascade of laughter. 

Oh, if but for a moment I could have had 
a human face ! I bit my lips, tears rolled over 
my heated face ; but it that idiotic mask, 
on which everything was in its right place, 
nose, eyes, and lips looked with a com- 
placency stolidly horrible in its absurdity. 
And when I went out, swaying on my flow- 
ered feet, it was long before I got out of 
reach of that ringing laugh. It was as 
though a silvery stream of water were falling 
from an immense height, and breaking in 
cheerful song upon the hard rock. 



IV 

SCATTERED over the whole sleeping street 
and rousing the stillness of the night with 
our lusty, excited voices, we walked home. 
A companion said to me : 

' You have had a colossal'success. I never 

saw people laugh so Halloa ! what are 

you up to ? Why are you tearing your 
mask ? I say, you fellows, he's gone mad ! 
Look, he's tearing his costume to pieces ! 
By Jove ! he's actually crying.' 



159 



THE FRIEND 

WHEN late at night he rang at his own door, 
the first sound after that of the bell was a 
resonant dog's bark, in which might be dis- 
tinguished both fear that it might have been 
a stranger, and joy that it was his own master, 
who had arrived. 

Then there followed the squish-squash of 
goloshes, and the squeak of the key taken out 
of the lock. 

He came in, and taking off his wrappers in 
the dark, was conscious of a silent female 
figure close by, while the nails of a dog 
caressingly scratched at his knees, and a hot 
tongue licked his chilled hand. 

' Well, what is it ? ' a sleepy voice asked in 
a tone of perfunctory interest. 

' Nothing ! I'm tired,' curtly replied Vladi- 
mir Mikhailovich, and went to his own room. 
The dog followed him, his nails striking 
sharply on the waxed floor, and jumped on to 
the bed. When the light of the lamp which he 
lit filled the room, his glance met the steady 

L.A. 161 II 



162 THE FRIEND 

gaze of the dog's black eyes. They seemed to 
say : ' Come now, pet me.' And to make the 
request better understood the dog stretched 
out his fore-paws, and laid his head side- 
ways upon them, while his hinder quarters 
wriggled comically, and his tail kept twirling 
round like the handle of a barrel-organ. 

' My only friend ! ' said Vladimir Mikhailo- 
vich, as he stroked the black, glossy coat. As 
though from excess of [feeling the dog turned 
on his back, showed his white teeth, and 
growled gently, joyful and excited. But 
Vladimir Mikhailovich sighed, petted the dog, 
and thought to himself, how that there was 
no one else in the world that would ever love 
him. 

If he happened to return home early, and 
not tired out with work, he would sit down to 
write, and the dog curled himself into a ball 
on a chair somewhere near to him, opened one 
black eye now and again, and sleepily wagged 
his tail. And when excited by the process of 
authorship, tortured by the sufferings of his 
own heroes, and choking with a plethora of 
thoughts and mental pictures, he walked 
about in his room, and smoked cigarette after 
cigarette, the dog would follow him with an 
anxious look, and wag his tail more vigor- 
ously than ever. 

' Shall we become famous, you and I, Vas- 



THE FRIEND 163 

yuk ? ' he would inquire of the dog, who 
would wag his tail in affirmation. ' We'll eat 
liver then, is that right ? ' 

' Right ! ' the dog would reply, stretching 
himself luxuriously. He was very fond of 
liver. 

Vladimir Mikhailovich often had visitors. 
Then his aunt, with whom he lived, would 
borrow china from her neighbour, and give 
them tea, setting on samovar after samovar. 
She would go and buy vodka and sausages, 
and sigh heavily as she drew out from the 
bottom of her pocket a greasy rouble-note. In 
the room with its smoke-laden atmosphere 
loud voices resounded. They quarrelled and 
laughed, said droll and sharp things, com- 
plained of their fate and envied one another. 
They advised Vladimir Mikhailovich to give 
up literature and take to some more lucrative 
occupation. Some said that he ought to 
consult a doctor, others clinked glasses with 
him, while they bewailed the injury that 
vodka was doing to his health. He was so 
sickly, so continually nervous. This was why 
he had such fits of depression, and why he 
demanded of life the impossible. All ad- 
dressed him as ' thou,' and their voices ex- 
pressed their interest in him, and in the 
friendliest manner, they would invite him to 
drive beyond the city with them, and prolong 



164 THE FRIEND 

the conviviality. And when he drove off 
merry, making more noise than the others, 
and laughing at nothing, there followed him 
two pairs of eyes : the grey eyes of his aunt, 
angry and reproachful, and the anxiously 
caressing black eyes of the dog. 

He did not remember what he did, when he 
had been drinking, and returned home in the 
morning bespattered with mud and marl, and 
without his hat. 

They would tell him afterwards how in his 
cups he had insulted his friends ; at home had 
reviled his Aunt, who had wept and said she 
could not bear such a life any longer, but must 
do away with herself ; and how he had tor- 
tured his dog, when he refused to come to 
him and be petted ; and that when, terrified 
and trembling, he showed his teeth, he had 
beaten him with a strap. 

And the following day all would have 
finished their day's work before he woke up 
sick and miserable. His heart would beat un- 
evenly and feel faint, filling him with dread 
of an early death, while his hands trembled. 
On the other side of the wall, in the kitchen, 
his Aunt would stump about, the sound of 
her steps re-echoing through the cold, empty 
flat. She would not speak to Vladimir Mik- 
hailovich, but austere and unforgiving gave 
him water in silence. And he too would keep 



THE FRIEND 165 

silence, looking at the ceiling, at a particular 
stain long known to him, and thinking how he 
was wasting his life, and that he would never 
gain fame and happiness. He confessed to 
himself that he was weak, worthless and terri- 
bly lonesome. The boundless world seethed 
with moving human beings, and yet there was 
not one single soul who would come to him 
and share his pains madly arrogant thoughts 
of fame, coupled with a deadly consciousness 
of worthlessness. With trembling, bungling 
hand he would grip his forehead, and press his 
eyelids, but however firmly he pressed, still 
the tears would ooze through, and creep 
down over his cheeks, which still retained the 
scent of purchased kisses. And when he 
dropped his hand, it would fall upon another 
forehead, hairy and smooth, and his gaze, 
confused with tears, would meet the caressing 
black eyes of the dog, and his ears would catch 
his soft sighs. And touched and comforted 
he would whisper : 

' My friend, my only friend ! ' 

When he recovered, his friends used to 
come to him, and softly reprove him, giving 
advice and speaking of the evils of drink. 
But some of his friends, whom he had in- 
sulted when drunk, ceased to notice him in 
the streets. They understood that he did 
not wish them any harm, but they preferred 



166 THE FRIEND 

not to run the risk of further unpleasantnesses. 
Thus he spent the oppressive fume-laden 
nights and the sternly avenging sun-lit days 
at war with himself, his obscurity and lone- 
liness. And ofttimes the steps of his Aunt 
resounded through the deserted flat, while 
from the bed was heard a whisper, which re- 
sembled a sigh : 

' My friend, my only friend ! ' 

Eventually his illusive fame came, came 
unguessed at, and unexpected, and filled the 
empty apartments with light and life. His 
Aunt's steps were drowned in the tramp of 
friendly footsteps, and the spectre of loneli- 
ness vanished, and the soft whisper ceased. 
Vodka, too, disappeared, that ominous com- 
panion of the solitary, and Vladimir Mik- 
hailovich ceased to insult his Aunt and his 
friends. 

The dog too was glad. Still louder be- 
came his bark on the occasion of their belated 
meetings, when his master, his only friend, 
came home kind, happy, and laughing. The 
dog himself learnt to smile ; his upper lip 
would be drawn up exposing his white teeth, 
and his nose would pucker up into funny little 
wrinkles. Happy and frolicsome he began to 
play ; he would seize hold of things and make 
as though he would carry them away, and 
when his master stretched out his hands to 



THE FRIEND 167 

catch him, he would let him approach to 
within a stride of him, and then run away 
again, while his black eyes sparkled with 
artfulness. 

Sometimes Vladimir Mikhailovich would 
point to his Aunt and say, ' Bite her ! ' and 
the dog would fly at her in feigned anger, 
shake her petticoat, and then, out of breath, 
glance sideways at his friend with his roguish 
black eyes. The Aunt's thin lips would be 
contorted into an austere smile, and stroking 
the dog, now tired out with play, on his 
glossy head, would say : 

' Sensible dog ! only he does not like 
soup.' 

And at night, when Vladimir Mikhailovich 
was at work, and only the jarring of the win- 
dow-panes, caused by the street traffic, broke 
the stillness, the dog would doze near to him 
on the alert, and wake at his slightest move- 
ment. 

' What, laddie, would you like some liver ? ' 
he would ask. 

' Yes,' would Vasyuk reply, wagging his 
tail in the affirmative. 

' Well, wait a bit, I'll buy you some. What 
do you want ? To be petted ? I have no 
time now, I airi busy ; go to sleep, laddie ! ' 

Every night he asked the dog about liver, 
but he continaully forgot to buy it, because 



i68 THE FRIEND 

his head was full of plans for a new work, and 
of thoughts of a woman he was in love with. 
Only once did he remember the liver. It was 
in the evening ; he was passing a butcher's 
shop, arm in arm with a pretty woman who 
pressed her shoulder close against his. He 
jokingly told her about his dog, and praised 
his sense and intelligence. Showing off some- 
what, he went on to tell her that there were 
terrible, distressing moments, when he re- 
garded his dog as his only friend, and laugh- 
ingly related his promise to buy liver for his 
friend, when he should have attained happi- 
ness and he pressed the girl's hand closer 
to him. 

' You clever fellow/ cried she, laughing ; 
' you would make even stones speak. But I 
don't like dogs at all : they are so apt to 
carry infection.' 

Vladimir Mikhailovich agreed that that was 
the case, and held his tongue with regard to 
his habit of sometimes kissing that black 
shiny muzzle. 

One day, Vasyuk played more than usual 
during the daytime, but in the evening, when 
Vladimir Mikhailovich came home, he did 
not turn up to meet him, and his Aunt said 
that the dog was ill. Vladimir Mikhailovich 
was alarmed, and went into the kitchen, 
where the dog lay on a bed of soft litter. His 



THE FRIEND 169 

nose was dry and hot, and his eyes were 
troubled. He made a slight movement of his 
tail, and looked piteously at his friend. 

' What is it, boy ; ill ? My poor fellow ! ' 

The tail made a feeble motion, and the 
black eyes became moist. 

' Lie still, then ; lie still ! ' 

' He will have to be taken to the veterinary : 
but to-morrow, I have no time. But it will 
pass off ' thought Vladimir Mikhailovich, 
and he forgot the dog in thinking of the 
happiness the pretty girl might give him. 
All the next day he was away from home. 
When he returned his hand fumbled long in 
searching for the bell-handle, and when it 
was found hesitated long as to what to do with 
the wooden thing. 

' Ah, yes ! I must ring,' he laughed, and 
then began singing, ' Open ye ! ' 

The bell gave a solitary ring, goloshes 
squish-squashed, and the key squeaked as 
it was taken out of the lock. 

Vladimir Mikhailovich, still humming, 
passed through into his room, and walked 
about a long time before it occurred to him 
that he ought to light the lamp. Then he un- 
dressed, but for a long time he kept in his hands 
the boots he had taken off, and looked at them 
as though they were the pretty girl, who had 
only that day said so simply and sincerely, 



170 THE FRIEND 

' Yes ! I love you ! ' And when he had got 
into bed, he still saw her speaking face, until 
side by side with it there appeared the black 
shiny muzzle of his dog, and with a sharp pain 
there crept into his heart the question : 

' But where is Vasyuk ? ' 

He became ashamed of having forgotten 
the sick dog but not particularly so : for 
had not Vasyuk been ill several times before, 
and nothing had come of it. But to-morrow 
the veterinary must be sent for. At all events 
he need not think of the dog, and of his own 
ingratitude that would do no good, and 
would only diminish his own happiness. 

When morning came the dog became worse. 
He was troubled with nausea, and being a 
well-mannered dog, he rose with difficulty 
from his litter, and went to the courtyard, 
staggering like a drunken man. His little 
black body was sleek as ever, but his head 
hung feebly, and his eyes, which now looked 
grey, gazed in mournful surprise. 

At first Vladimir Mikhailovich himself, 
with the help of his Aunt, opened wide the 
dog's mouth, with its yellowing gums, and 
poured in medicine : but the dog was in such 
pain and suffered so, that it became too dis- 
tressing to him to look at him, and he left 
him to the care of his Aunt. And when the 
dog's feeble, helpless moan penetrated through 



THE FRIEND 171 

the wall, he stuffed his fingers into his ears, 
and was surprised at the extent of his love 
for this poor dog. 

In the evening he went out. Before doing 
so he gave a look in at the kitchen. His 
Aunt was on her knees stroking the hot, 
trembling head with her dry hand. 

With his legs stretched out like sticks, the 
dog lay heavy and motionless, and only by 
putting one's ear down close to his muzzle 
could one catch the low, frequent moans. 

His eyes, now quite grey, fixed themselves 
on his master as he came in, and when he 
carefully passed his hand over the dog's fore- 
head, his groans became clearer and more 
piteous. 

' What, laddie, are you so bad ? But wait 
a bit, when you are well I will buy you some 
liver.' 

' I'll make him eat soup ! ' jokingly threat- 
ened the Aunt. 

The dog closed his eyes, and Vladimir 
Mikhailovich with a forced joke went out 
in haste ; and when he got into the street he 
hired a cab, since he was afraid of being late 
at the rendezvous with Natalya Lavrenty- 
evna. 

That autumn's evening the air was so fresh 
and pure, and so many stars twinkled in the 
dark sky ! They kept falling, leaving behind 



172 THE FRIEND 

them a fiery track, and burst kindling with a 
bluish light a pretty girl's face, and were 
reflected in her dark eyes as though a glow- 
worm had appeared at the bottom of a deep 
dark well. And greedy lips noiselessly kissed 
those eyes, those lips fresh as the night air, 
and those cool cheeks. Voices exultant, and 
trembling with love, whispered, prattling of 
joy and life. 

When Vladimir Mikhailovich drove up to his 
house, he remembered the dog, and his 
breast ached with a dark foreboding. 

When his Aunt opened the door, he asked : 

' Well, how's Vasyuk ? ' 

' Dead. He died about an hour after you 
left.' 

The dead dog had been already removed 
to some outhouse, and the litter bed cleared 
away. But Vladimir Mikhailovich did not 
even wish to see the body ; it would be too 
distressing a sight. When he lay down in 
bed, and all noises were stilled in the empty 
flat, he began to weep restrainedly. His 
lips puckered up silently, and tears forced 
their way through his closed eyelids, and 
rolled quickly down on to his bosom. He 
was ashamed that he was kissing a woman at 
the very moment when he, who had been his 
friend, lay a-dying on the floor alone. And he 
dreaded what his Aunt would think of him, 



THE FRIEND 173 

a serious man, if she heard that he had been 
crying about a dog. 

Much time had elapsed since these events. 
Mysterious, outrageous fame had left Vladi- 
mir Mikhailovich just as it had come to him. 
He had disappointed the hopes that had been 
built on him, and all were angry at this dis- 
appointment, and avenged themselves on 
him by exasperating remarks and cold jeers. 
And then they had shut down on him dead, 
heavy oblivion, like the lid of a coffin. 

The young woman had dropped him. She 
too considered herself taken in. 

The oppressive fume-laden nights, and the 
pitilessly vengeful sun-lit days, went by : and 
frequently, more frequently than formerly, 
the Aunt's steps resounded through the empty 
flat, while he lay on his bed looking at the 
well-known stain on the ceiling, and whis- 
pered : 

' My friend, my friend, my only friend ! ' 

And his trembling hand fell feebly on an 
empty place. 



IN THE BASEMENT 



HE drank hard, lost his work and his ac- 
quaintances, and took up his abode in a cellar 
in the company of thieves and unfortunates, 
living on the last things he had. 

His was a sickly, anaemic body, worn out 
with work, eaten up by sufferings and vodka. 
Death was already on the watch for him, like 
a grey bird-of-prey blind in the sunshine, 
sharp-eyed in the black night. By day death 
hid itself in the dark corners, but at night it 
took its seat noiselessly by his bedside, and 
sat long, till the very dawn, and was quiet, 
patient, and persistent. When at the first 
streak of light he put out his pale head from 
under the blankets, his eyes gleaming like 
those of a hunted wild animal, the room was 
already empty. But he did not trust this 
deceptive emptiness, which others believe in. 
He suspiciously looked round into all the 
corners ; with crafty suddenness he cast a 

175 



176 IN THE BASEMENT 

glance behind his back, and then leaning 
upon his elbows he gazed intently before him 
into the melting darkness of the departing 
night. And then he saw something, such as 
ordinary people do not see : the rocking of a 
monster grey body, shapeless, terrible. It 
was transparent, embraced all things, and 
objects were seen in it as behind a glass wall. 
But now he feared it not ; and it departed until 
the next night, leaving behind it a cold im- 
pression. 

For a short time he was wrapped in ob- 
livion, and terrible, extraordinary dreams 
came to him. He saw a white room, with 
white floor and walls, illumined by a bright 
white light, and a black serpent which was 
creeping away under the door with a gentle 
rustling-like laughter. Pressing its sharp flat 
head to the floor, it wriggled and quickly 
glided away, and was lost somewhere or 
other, and then again its black flattened nose 
appeared through a crevice under the door, 
and its body drew itself out in a black ribbon 
and so again and again. Once in his 
sleep he dreamed of something pleasant, and 
laughed, but the sound seemed strange, and 
more like a suppressed sob it was terrible to 
hear it his soul somewhere in the unknown 
depths laughing, or perhaps weeping, while 
the body lay motionless as the dead. 



IN THE BASEMENT 177 

By degrees the sounds of nascent day began 
to invade his consciousness : the indistinct 
talk of passers-by, the distant squeaking of a 
door, the swish of the dvornik's broom as he 
brushed away the snow from the window-sill 
all the undefined bustle of a great city 
awakening. And then there came upon him 
the most horrible, mercilessly clear conscious- 
ness that a new day had arrived, and that 
he would soon have to get up, in order to 
struggle for life without any hope of victory. 

One must live. 

He turned his back to the light, threw the 
blanket over his head, so that not the min- 
utest ray might penetrate to his eyes, squeezed 
himself together into a small ball, drawing 
his legs up to his very chin, and so lay motion- 
less, dreading to stir and to stretch out his 
legs. A whole mountain of clothes lay upon 
him as a protection against the cold of the 
basement, but he did not feel their weight, 
and his body remained cold. And at every 
sound speaking of life he seemed to himself 
to be monstrous and unveiled, and he hugged 
himself together all the tighter, and silently 
groaned neither with voice nor in thought 
since he feared now his own voice and his 
own thoughts. He prayed to some one that 
the day might not come, so that he might 
always lie under the heap of rags, without 

L.A. 12 



178 IN THE BASEMENT 

movement or thought, and he concentrated 
his whole will to keep back the coming day, 
and to persuade himself that it was still 
night. And more than anything in the world 
he wished that some one from behind would 
put a revolver to the back of his head, just 
at the place where there is a cavity, and blow 
his brains out. 

But daylight unfolded, broad, irresistible, 
calling forcibly to life, and all the world be- 
gan to move, to talk, to work, to think. The 
first in the basement to wake was the land- 
lady, old Matryona. She got up from the side 
of her twenty-five-year-old lover, and began to 
stamp about the kitchen, clatter with the 
buckets, and busy herself about something 
close to Khinyakov's very door. He felt 
her approach, and lay quiet, determined not 
to answer if she called him. But she kept 
silence, and went away somewhere. In the 
course of an hour or two the two other lodgers 
woke up, an unfortunate named Dunyasha, 
and the old woman's lover Abram Petrovich. 
He was so called in spite of his youth out of 
respect, because he was a daring and skilful 
thief, and something else besides, which was 
guessed at, but not spoken about. 

The waking up of these terrified Khinyakov 
more than anything, since they had a hold on 
him, and the right to come in and sit on his 



IN THE BASEMENT 179 

bed, to touch him, and recall him to thought 
and speech. He had become intimate with 
Dunyasha one day when he was drunk, and 
had promised her marriage, and although she 
had laughed and slapped him on the back, 
she sincerely considered him as her lover, 
and patronized him, although she was herself 
a stupid, dirty, unwashed slut, who had spent 
many a night at the police-station. With 
Abram Petrovich he had only the day before 
yesterday been drinking, and they had kissed 
one another and sworn eternal friendship. 

When the fresh loud voice of Abram Petro- 
vich and his quick steps resounded near the 
door, Khinyakov's heart's blood curdled with 
fear and suspense, and he could not help 
groaning aloud, and then was all the more 
frightened. In one distinct picture that drink- 
ing-bout passed before him : how they had sat 
in some dark tavern or other, illumined by a 
single lamp, amid dark people who kept 
whispering together about something, while 
they themselves also whispered together. 
Abram Petrovich was pale and excited, and 
complained of the hardships of a thief's life ; 
for some reason or other he had bared his arms 
and allowed him to feel the badly-mended 
bones of his once broken arm, and Khinyakov 
had kissed him and said : 

' I love thieves, they are so bold,' and pro- 



i8o IN THE BASEMENT 

posed to him that they should drink to ' bro- 
therhood,' although they had for long been 
on quite intimate terms. 

' And I love you, because you are educated, 
and understand us so well/ replied Abram 
Petrovich. 

' Look again at my arm ; here it is, 
eh?' 

And again the white arm had passed be- 
fore his eyes, seeming to be sorry for its own 
whiteness, and suddenly realizing something 
(which he did not now remember or under- 
stand), he had kissed that arm, and Abram 
Petrovich had proudly cried : 

' Indeed, brother, death before surren- 
der !' 

And then something dirty whirling round 
and round, howls, whistles, and jumping 
lights. Then he had felt cheerful, but now 
when death was hiding in the corners, and 
when day was rushing in upon him from every 
direction with the inexorable necessity to 
live and do something, to struggle after some- 
thing and ask for something he felt tortured 
and inexpressibly frightened. 

' Are you asleep, sir ? ' Abram Petrovich 
inquired sarcastically through the door, and 
receiving no answer, added : 

' Well, then, sleep away ; devil take you ! ' 

Many acquaintances visited Abram Petro- 



IN THE BASEMENT 181 

vich, and throughout the day the door 
squeaked on its hinges, and bass voices were 
to be heard. And it seemed to Khinyakov at 
every sound that they were coming for him, 
and he buried himself the deeper in his bed- 
clothes, and listened long to catch to whom 
the voice belonged. He waited and waited 
in agony, trembling all over his body, al- 
though there was no one in the whole world 
who would come to fetch him. 

He had once had a wife long ago but 
she was dead. Still further back in the past 
he had had brothers and sisters, and still 
earlier something indistinct and beautiful, 
which he called Mother. All these were 
dead, or possibly some one of them might be 
still alive, only so lost in the wide, wide 
world, that he was as though dead. And he 
himself would soon be dead too he knew it. 
When he should get up to-day his legs would 
tremble and give way under him, and his 
hands would make uncertain strange motions 
and this was death. But meanwhile he 
must needs live, and that is such a serious 
task for a man who has neither money, 
health, nor will, that Khinyakov was seized 
with despair. He threw off his blanket, 
clasped his hands, and breathed out into the 
void such prolonged groans, that they seemed 
to proceed from a thousand suffering breasts, 



i82 IN THE BASEMENT 

therefore was it that they were so full, brim- 
ming over with insupportable torture. 

' Open, you devil ! ' cried Dunyasha from 
the other side of the door, pounding it with 
her fists. ' Or I'll break the door down ! ' 

Trembling with tottering steps, Khinyakov 
reached the door, opened it, and quickly 
lay down again, nay almost fell, on his bed. 
Dunyasha, already befrizzled and bepowdered, 
sat down at his side, shoving him against the 
wall, and, crossing her legs, said with an air 
of importance : 

' I have brought you news. Katya ex- 
pired yesterday.' 

' What Katya ? ' asked Khinyakov, using 
his tongue clumsily and uncertainly, as though 
it did not belong to him. 

' Come, now, you can't have forgotten ! ' 
laughed Dunyasha. ' The Katya who used to 
live here. How can you have forgotten her, 
when she has ,been gone only a week ? ' 

' Died ? ' 

' Why, of course died, as all die.' Dun- 
yasha moistened the tip of her little finger 
and wiped the powder from her thin eye- 
lashes. 

' What of ? ' 

' What all die of. Who knows what ? 
They told me yesterday at the cafe, Katya 
was dead.' 



IN THE BASEMENT 183 

' Did you love her ? ' 

' Certainly I loved her ! What are you 
talking about ! ' 

Dunyasha's stupid eyes looked at Khinya- 
kov in dull indifference as she swung her 
fat leg. She did not know what more to say, 
and tried to look at him, as he lay there, in 
such a manner as to show to him her love, and 
with that intent she gently winked her eye, 
and dropped the corners of her full lips. 

The day had begun. 



II 



THAT day, a Saturday, the frost was so severe 
that the boys did not go to school, and the 
horse-races were postponed for fear of the 
horses catching cold. When Natalya Vladi- 
mirovna came out from the lying-in hospital, 
she was for the first moment glad that it was 
evening, that there was no one on the em- 
bankment, that none met her an unmarried 
girl, with a six-day-old child in her arms. It 
had seemed to her that, as soon as she should 
cross the threshold, she would be met by a 
shouting, hissing crowd, among whom would 
be her senile, paralytic, and almost blind 
father, her acquaintances, students, officers 
and their young ladies ; and that all these 
would point the finger at her and cry : 

' There goes a girl who has passed through 
six classes at the high-school, had acquaint- 
ances among the students both intellectual 
and of good birth, who used to blush at a word 
spoken unadvisedly, and who six days ago 

184 



IN THE BASEMENT 185 

gave birth to a child, in the lying-in hospital, 
side by side with other fallen women/ 

But the embankment was deserted. Along 
it the icy wind travelled unrestrained, lifted 
a grey cloud of snow, ground by the frost 
into a biting dust, and covered with it every- 
thing living and dead which met it in its path. 
With a gentle whistle it wove itself round the 
metal pillars of the railings, so that they shone 
again, and looked so cold and lonely that it 
was a pain to look at them. And the girl 
felt herself to be just such a cold thing, an 
outcast from mankind and life. She had on 
a little short jacket, the one which she usually 
wore skating, and which she had hurriedly 
thrown on when she left her home suffering 
the premonitory pains of childbirth. And 
when the wind seized her, and wrapped her 
thin skirt about her ankles, and chille'd her 
head, she began to fear that she might be 
frozen to death ; and her fear of a crowd dis- 
appeared, and the world expanded into a 
boundless icy wilderness, in which was neither 
man, nor light, nor warmth. Two burning 
tear-drops gathered in her eyes, and froze 
there. Bending her head down, she wiped 
them away with the formless bundle she was 
carrying, and went on faster. Now she no 
longer loved herself nor the child, and both 
lives seemed to her worthless ; only certain 



186 IN THE BASEMENT 

words, which had, as it were, sunk into her 
brain, persistently repeated themselves, and 
went before her calling : 

' Nyemchinovskaya Street, the second house 
from the corner. Nyemchinovskaya Street, 
the second house from the corner.' 

These words she had repeated for six days 
as she lay on the bed and fed her infant. They 
meant, that she must go to Nyemchinov- 
skaya Street, where her foster-sister, an un- 
fortunate, lived, because only with her could 
she find an asylum for herself and her child. 
A year ago, when all was still well and she 
was continually laughing and singing, she 
had visited Katya, who was ill, and had 
helped her with money, and now she was the 
only human being remaining before whom 
she was not ashamed. 

' Nyemchinovskaya Street, the second house 
from the corner. Nyemchinovskaya Street, 
the second house from the corner.' 

She walked on, and the wind whirled 
angrily round her ; and when she came upon 
the bridge it greedily dashed at her bosom, 
and dug its iron nails into her cold face. 
Vanquished, it dropped noisily from the 
bridge, and circled along the snow-covered 
surface of the river, and again swept upwards, 
overshadowing the road with cold, trembling 
wings. Natalya Vladimirovna stood still, 



IN THE BASEMENT 187 

and in utter weakness leaned against the rail. 
From the depth below there looked up at her 
a dull black eye a spot of unfrozen water 
and its gaze was mysterious and terrible. 
But before her resounded and called persis- 
tently the words : 

' Nyemchinovskaya Street, the second 
house from the corner. Nyemchinovskaya 
Street, the second house from the corner.' 

Khinyakov dressed, and lay down again on 
his bed rolled to the very eyes in a warm 
overcoat, his sole remaining possession. The 
room was cold, there was ice in the corners, 
but he breathed into the astrakhan collar, 
and so became warm and comfortable. The 
whole long day he kept deceiving himself, 
that to-morrow he would go and seek work, 
and ask for something ; but meanwhile he 
was content not to think at all, but merely to 
tremble at the sound of a raised voice the 
other side of the wall, or at the sound of a 
sharply slammed door. He had lain long in 
this way, perfectly still, when at the entrance 
door he heard an uneven rapping, timid, and 
yet hurried and sharp, as if some one was 
knocking with the back of the hand. His 
room was the one next to the entrance door, 
and by craning his head and pricking up his 
ears he could distinguish everything which 
took place near it. Matryona went to the 



i88 IN THE BASEMENT 

door and opened it, let some one in and 
closed it again. Then followed an expectant 
silence. 

' Whom do you want ? ' asked Matryona 
in a hoarse, unfriendly tone. A stranger's 
voice, gentle and broken, bashfully replied : 

' I want Katya Nyechayeva. She lives 
here ? ' 

' She did. But what do you want with 
her?' 

' I want her very badly. Is she not at 
home ? ' and in her voice there was a note of 
fear. 

' Katya is dead. She died, I say in the 
hospital.' 

Again there was a long silence, so long 
indeed that Khinyakov felt a pain at his back ; 
but he did not dare to move it, while the peo- 
ple there kept silence. 

Then the stranger's voice pronounced 
gently and without expression, the one word : 

' Good-bye ! ' 

But evidently she did not go away, since 
in the course of a minute Matryona asked : 
' What have you there ? Have you brought 
something for Katya ? ' 

Some one knelt down, striking her knees 
on the floor, and the stranger's voice, con- 
vulsed with suppressed sobs, uttered quickly 
the words : 



IN THE BASEMENT 189 

* Take it, take it ! For the love of God, 
take it ! And then I I'll go away.' 

' But what is it ? ' 

Again there was a long silence, and then a 
gentle weeping, broken, and hopeless. There 
was in it a deadly weariness, and a black 
despair, without a single gleam of hope. 
It was as though a hand had impotently 
drawn the bow across the over-tightened, 
the last remaining, string of an expensive 
instrument, and when the string snapped the 
soft wailing note had been silenced for ever. 

' Why, you have nearly smothered it ! ' 
exclaimed Matryona in a rough, angry tone. 
* You see what sort of people undertake to 
bear children. How could you do it ? Who- 
ever would wrap up babies like that ? Come 
now, come along ; do, I say. How could you 
do such a thing ? ' 

Once more all was silent near the door. 

Khinyakov listened a little longer and then 
lay down, delighted that no one had come to 
fetch him, and not taking the trouble to guess 
the truth about what he had not understood 
in that which had just taken place. He began 
already to feel the approach of night, and 
wished that some one would turn the lamp 
up higher. He became restless, and, clench- 
ing his teeth, he endeavoured to restrain his 
thoughts. In the past there was nothing but 



igo IN THE BASEMENT 

mire, falls, and horror, and there was the 
same horror in the future. He was just be- 
ginning by degrees to snuggle himself to- 
gether, and draw up his hands and feet, when 
Dunyasha came in, dressed to go out in a red 
blouse, and already slightly intoxicated. She 
plopped down on the bed, and said with a 
gesture of surprise : 

' Oh Lord ! ' She shook her head and 
smiled. ' They have brought a little baby 
here. Such a tiny one, my friend, but he 
shouts just like a police-inspector. Just like 
a police-inspector ! ' 

She swore whimsically, and coquettishly 
flipped Khinyakov's nose. 

' Let's go and see. Why not, indeed ! Yes, 
we'll just take a look at him. Matryona is 
going to bathe it ; she is boiling the samovar. 
Abram Petrovich is blowing up the charcoal 
with his boot. How funny it all is. And 
the baby is crying : " Wa, wa, wa ! " 

Dunyasha made a face which she meant 
to represent the baby, and again went on 
puling : ' " Wa, wa, wa ! " Just like a 
police-inspector ! Let's go. Don't you want 
to ? well, then devil take you ! Turn up 
your toes where you are, rotten egg, you ! ' 

And she danced out of the room. But half 
an hour after Khinyakov, tottering on his 
weak legs and hanging on to the doorposts, 



IN THE BASEMENT 191 

hesitatingly opened the door of the kitchen. 

' Shut it ! you've made a draught/ cried 
Abram Petrovich. 

Khinyakov hastily slammed the door be- 
hind him, and looked round apologetically ; 
but no one took any notice of him, so he 
calmed down. The combined heat of the 
stove, the urn, and the company made the 
kitchen pretty warm, and the vapour rose, 
and then rolled down the colder walls in thick 
drops. Matryona with a severe and irritated 
mien was washing the child in a trough, and 
with pock-marked hands was splashing the 
water over him, while she crooned : 

' Little lambkin, then, it s'all be clean. 
It s'all be white.' 

Whether it was because the kitchen was 
light and cheerful, or because the water was 
warm and caressing, at all events the child 
was quiet, and wrinkled up its little red face 
as though about to sneeze. Dunyasha looked 
at the tub over Matryona 's shoulder, and seiz- 
ing her opportunity, splashed the little one 
with three fingers. 

' Get away ! ' the old woman cried in a 
threatening tone, ' where are you coming 
to ? I know what to do without your help. 
I have had children of my own.' 

' Don't meddle. She's quite right, chil- 
dren are such tender things,' said Abram 



192 IN THE BASEMENT 

Petrovich, in support of her ; ' they want 
some handling.' 

He sat down on the table, and with con- 
descending satisfaction contemplated the lit- 
tle rosy body. The baby wriggled its fingers, 
and Dunyasha with wild delight wagged her 
head and laughed. 

' Just like a police-inspector ! ' 

' But have you seen a police-inspector in a 
trough ? ' asked Abram Petrovich. 

All laughed, and even Khinyakov smiled ; 
but almost immediately the smile left his 
face in affright, and he looked round at the 
mother. She was sitting wearily on the 
bench, with her head thrown back, and her 
black eyes, abnormally large from sickness and 
suffering, lighted up with a peaceful gleam, 
and on her pale lips hovered the proud smile 
of a mother. And when he saw this Khin- 
yakov burst into a solitary, belated laugh : 

'He! he! he!' 

He even looked proudly round on all 
sides. Matryona took the baby out of the 
tub, and wrapped it in a bath-sheet. The 
child burst into loud crying, but was soon 
quieted again, and Matryona, unrolling the 
sheet, smiled in confusion and said : 

' What a dear little body, just like velvet/ 

' Let me feel,' entreated Dunyasha. 

' What next ! ' 



IN THE BASEMENT 193 

Dunyasha began suddenly to tremble all 
over, and stamped her feet ; choking with 
longing, and mad with the desire, which over- 
whelmed her, she cried in such a shrill voice 
as none had ever heard from her : 

' Let me ! let me ! ' 

' Yes, let her/ entreated Natalya Vladi- 
mirovna in a fright. And Dunyasha just as 
suddenly became quiet again. She cautiously 
touched the child's little shoulder with two 
fingers, and following her example, Abram 
Petrovich, with a condescending wink, also 
reached out to that little red shoulder. 

' Yes, indeed, children are tender things,' 
said he in self -justification. 

Last of all Khinyakov tried it. His fingers 
felt for a moment the touch of something 
living, downy like velvet, and withal so ten- 
der and feeble that his fingers seemed no 
longer to belong to him, and became as tender 
as the something he touched. And thus, 
craning their necks, and unconsciously light- 
ing up into a smile of strange happiness, 
stood the three, the thief, the prostitute, and 
the lonely broken man, and that little life, 
feeble as a distant light on the steppe, was 
vaguely calling them somewhither, and pro- 
mising them something beautiful, bright, 
immortal. And the happy mother looked 
proudly on, while above the low ceiling the 



L.A. 



194 IN THE BASEMENT 

house rose in a heavy mass of stone, and in 
the upper flats the rich sauntered about, and 
yawned with ennui. 

Night had come on, black, malign, as all 
nights are, and had pitched her tent in dark- 
ness over the distant snowy fields ; and the 
lonely branches of trees became chilled with 
fear, just those branches which first wel- 
comed the morning sun. With feeble arti- 
ficial light man fought against her, but 
strong and malign she girded the isolated 
lights in a hopeless circle, and filled the hearts 
of men with darkness. And in many a 
heart she extinguished the feeble flickering 
sparks. 

Khinyakov did not sleep. Huddled up 
together into a little ball, he hid himself under 
a soft heap of rags from the cold and from 
the night, and wept, without effort, without 
pain or convulsion, as those weep whose heart 
is pure and without sin, as the heart of a little 
child. He pitied himself huddled up into a 
heap, and it seemed to him that he pitied all 
mankind and the whole of human life, and 
in this feeling there was a secret, profound 
gladness. He saw the child, just born, and it 
seemed to him that he himself was reborn 
to a new life, and would live long, and that 
his life would be beautiful. He loved and yet 
pitied this new life, and he felt so happy, that 



IN THE BASEMENT 195 

he laughed so that he shook the heap of rags, 
and then asked himself : 

' Why am I weeping ? ' 

But he could not discover the answer to 
his own question, and so replied : 

'So!' 

And such a profound thought was conveyed 
by this short word, that this wreck of a man, 
whose life was so pitiable and lonely, was 
convulsed with a fresh burst of scalding tears. 

But at his bedside rapacious death was 
noiselessly taking its seat, and waiting 
quietly, patiently, persistently. 



THE CITY 

IT was an immense city in which they lived : 
Petrov, clerk in a commercial bank, and he, 
the other, name unknown. 

They used to meet once a year, at Easter, 
when they both went to pay a visit at one 
and the same house, that of the Vasilyevskys. 
Petrov used to pay a visit also at Christmas, 
but probably the other, whom he used to 
meet, came at Christmas at a different hour, 
and so they did not see one another. The 
first two or three times Petrov did not notice 
him among so many visitors, but the fourth 
year his face seemed known to him and they 
greeted one another with a smile and the 
fifth year Petrov proposed to clink glasses 
with him. 

' Your health ! ' he said politely, and held 
out his glass. 

' Here's to yours ! ' the other replied with 
a smile, and he too held out his glass. 

Petrov did not think of asking his name, 
and when he went out into the street he quite 

197 



198 THE CITY 

forgot his existence, and the whole year 
never thought of him again. Every day he 
went to the bank, where he had been em- 
ployed for nine years ; in the winter he occa- 
sionally went to the theatre ; in the summer 
he visited at the bungalow of an acquaint- 
ance ; and twice he was ill with the influenza 
the second time immediately before Easter. 

And just as he was mounting the stairs 
at the Vasilyevskys', in evening dress and with 
his opera-hat under his arm, he remembered 
that he would see him there, the other, and 
felt very much surprised that he could not 
in the least recall his face and figure. Petrov 
himself was below the average height and 
somewhat round-shouldered, so that many 
took him for a hunchback ; he had large 
black eyes with yellowish whites. In other 
respects he did not differ from the rest, who 
paid a visit to the Vasilyevskys twice a year, 
and when they forgot his surname they used 
to speak of him as the ' little hunchback.' 

He, the other, was already there, and on 
the point of going away ; but when he recog- 
nised Petrov, he smiled politely, and re- 
mained. He was also in evening dress and 
had an opera-hat, and Petrov failed to exam- 
ine him further, since he was occupied with 
talking, and eating, and drinking tea. 

They went out together, and helped one 



THE CITY 199 

another on with their coats, like friends : they 
politely made way the one for the other, and 
each gave the porter a half -rouble. They 
stood still a short time in the street, and then 
he, the other, said : 

' Well, tipping's become a regular tax. 
But it can't be helped.' 

Petrov replied : 

' Yes, quite true.' 

And since there was nothing more to be 
said, they smiled in a friendly manner, and 
Petrov said : 

' Which way are you going ? ' 

' I turn to the left. And you ? ' 

' I to the right.' 

In the cab Petrov remembered that he 
had again failed either to ask his name, or 
to observe him particularly. He turned 
round : carriages were passing in both direc- 
tions, the pavements were black with pedes- 
trians, and in that closely moving mass it 
was as impossible to distinguish him, the 
other, as to find a particular grain of sand 
amongst other grains. And again Petrov 
forgot him, and did not think of him again for 
a whole year. 

Petrov had lived for many years in the 
same furnished apartments, and he was not 
much liked there, because he was grumpy and 
irritable ; and they also called him behind his 



200 THE CITY 

back, ' Humpty.' He used often to sit in his 
apartment alone, and none knew what work 
he did, since Fedot, the upstairs servant, did 
not look on books and letters as ' work.' At 
night Petrov sometimes went for a walk, and 
Ivan the porter could not understand these 
walks, since Petrov always returned sober, 
and alone. 

But Petrov used to walk about at night, 
because he was very much afraid of the city 
in which he lived, and he feared it more than 
ever in the daytime, when the streets were 
full of people. 

The city was immense and populous, and 
there was in its populousness and immensity 
something stubborn, unconquerable, and cal- 
lously cruel. With the colossal weight of its 
bloated stone houses, it crushed the earth 
on which it stood ; and the streets between 
the houses were narrow, crooked, and deep 
like fissures in a rock. It seemed as though 
they were all seized with a panic of fear, and 
were endeavouring to run away from the 
centre to the open country, and that they 
could not find the road, and losing their way 
had rolled themselves in a ball like a serpent, 
and were intersecting one another, and look- 
ing back in hopeless despair. 

One might walk for hours about these 
streets, which seemed broken-down, choked, 



THE CITY 201 

and faint with a terrible convulsion, and 
never emerge from the line of fat stone houses. 
Some high, others low, some flushed with the 
cold thin blood of new bricks, others painted 
with a dark or light colour, they stood in 
unswaying solidity on both sides, callously 
met, and personally conducted one, and 
pressing together in a dense crowd, in this 
direction and in that, lost their individuality 
and become like one another and the walker 
grew frightened : it was as though he had 
become rooted to the spot, and the houses 
kept going past him in an endless truculent 
file. 

Once Petrov was walking quietly about 
the street, when suddenly he felt what a 
thickness of stone houses separated him from 
the wide, open country, where the free earth 
breathed softly in the sunshine, and man's 
eyes might look round to the distant horizon. 

It seemed to him that he was suffocating 
and being blinded, and he felt a desire to run 
and get quickly out from the stony embrace 
and it became a horror to him to think, 
however fast he might run, still houses, ever 
houses, would go with him on both sides, 
and he would be suffocated before he could 
run beyond the city. Petrov ensconced him- 
self in the first restaurant he came across, 
but even there he seemed for a long time to be 



202 THE CITY 

suffocating ; so he drank cold water, and 
wiped his eyes with his handkerchief. 

But the most terrible thing of all was, that 
in all the houses there lived human beings, 
and about all the streets were moving human 
beings. There were a multitude of them, and 
all of them were unknown to him strangers ; 
and all of them lived their own separate life, 
hidden from the eyes of others ; they were 
without interruption being born, and dying, 
and there was no beginning nor end to this 
stream. Whenever Petrov went to the bank, 
or out for a walk, he saw the same familiar, 
well-known houses, and everything appeared 
to him simply an old acquaintance ; if, how- 
ever, he stood still, but for a moment, to fix 
his attention on some face, then all was quickly 
and terribly changed. With a feeling of 
terror and impotence Petrov would look at 
all the faces, and understand that he saw them 
for the first time, that yesterday he had seen 
other people, and to-morrow would see yet 
others ; and so always, every day, and every 
minute, he would see new, unknown faces. 
There was a stout gentleman, at whom Petrov 
glanced, disappearing round the corner and 
never would Petrov see him again. Even if 
he wished to find him, he might search for him 
all his life, and never succeed. 

And Petrov feared the immense, callous city. 



THE CITY 203 

This year again Petrov had the influenza, 
very severely with a complication, and he was 
frequently afflicted with cold in the head. 

Moreover, the doctor found that he had 
catarrh of the stomach, and the next Easter, 
as he was going to the Vasilyevskys', he 
thought on the way of what he should eat 
there. When he recognized him, the other, 
he was pleased and informed him : 

' My dear sir, I have a catarrh.' 

He, the other, shook his head sympathe- 
tically, and replied : 

' You don't say so ! ' 

And once more Petrov did not inquire his 
name, but he began to look upon him as quite 
an old acquaintance, and thought of him with 
pleasurable feelings. ' Him,' he named him, 
but when he wanted to recall his face, he 
could only conjure up an evening coat, white 
waistcoat, and a smile ; and since he could not 
in the least recollect the face, it inevitably 
appeared as though the coat and waistcoat 
smiled. That summer Petrov went out very 
frequently to a certain bungalow, wore a red 
neck-tie, dyed his moustache, and said to 
Fedot that in the autumn he should change 
his quarters ; but afterwards he gave up 
going to the bungalow, and took to drink for 
a whole month. He managed his drinking 
clumsily with tears and scenes. Once he 



204 THE CITY 

broke the mirror in his room ; another time 
he frightened a certain lady. He invaded her 
apartment in the evening, fell on his knees and 
proposed to her. This fair unknown was a 
courtesan, and at first listened to him atten- 
tively and even laughed, but when he began 
to weep and complain of his loneliness, she 
took him for a madman, and began to scream 
with terror. As they led him away, support- 
ing himself against Fedot, he pulled his hair 
and cried : 

' We are all men, all brethren ! ' 
They had decided to get rid of him ; but he 
gave up drinking, and once more the porter 
swore at having to open and shut the door for 
him. At New Year Petrov received an in- 
crease of 100 roubles per annum, and he 
changed into a neighbouring apartment, which 
was five roubles dearer, and had windows 
looking into the courtyard. Petrov thought 
that there he would not hear the rumbling 
of the street traffic, and might even forget 
what a multitude of unknown strangers sur- 
rounded him, and lived their own particular 
lives in proximity to him. 

In the winter it was quiet in his rooms, but 
when spring came, and the snow was removed 
from the streets, the rumble of the traffic 
began again, and the double walls were no 
protection from it. 



THE CITY 205 

In the daytime, while he was occupied 
with something, and himself moved about and 
made a noise, he did not notice the rumbling, 
though it never ceased for a moment ; but 
when night came on and all became quiet in 
the house, then the noisy street forced its 
way into the dark chamber, and deprived it 
of all quiet and privacy. The jarring and 
disjointed sounds of individual vehicles were 
heard ; an indistinct, slight sound would 
come to life somewhere in the distance, grow 
louder and clearer, and by degrees die down 
again, and in its place would be heard a new 
one, and so on and on without intermission. 
Sometimes only the hoofs of the horses struck 
the ground evenly and rhythmically, and there 
was no sound of wheels this was when a 
caleche went by on rubber tyres ; but often 
the noise of individual vehicles would blend 
into a terrible loud rumble, which made the 
stone walls tremble slightly, and set the 
bottles vibrating in the cupboard. And all 
this was caused by human beings ! They 
sat in hired and private carriages, they drove 
no one knew whence or whither, they dis- 
appeared into the unknown depths of the 
immense city, and in their place appeared 
fresh people, other human beings, and there 
was no end to this incessant movement, so 
terrible in its incessancy. And every passer- 



206 THE CITY 

by was a separate microcosm, with his own 
rules and aims of life, with his own affinity, 
whom he loved, with his own separate joys 
and sorrows, and each was like a ghost, which 
appeared for a moment and then disappeared 
inexplicably and unrecognized. And the 
more people there were, who were unknown 
to one another, the more terrible became the 
solitude of each. And during those black, 
rumbling nights Petrov often felt inclined to 
cry out in fear, and to betake himself to the 
deep cellar, in order to be there perfectly 
alone. There one might think only of those 
one knew, and not feel oneself so infinitely 
alone among a multitude of strange people. 

At Easter, he, the other, did not turn up 
at the Vasilyevskys', and Petrov did not ob- 
serve his absence until the end of his call, when 
he had begun to make his adieux, and failed 
to meet the well-known smile. And he felt 
a disquiet at heart, and suddenly was con- 
scious of a painful longing to see him, the 
other, and to say something to him about his 
loneliness and his nights. But he had only a 
very slight recollection of the man whom he 
sought ; only that he was of middle age, fair 
apparently, and always in evening dress ; 
but by this description the Vasilyevskys could 
not guess of whom he was speaking. 

' So many people pay us a visit on Festi- 



THE CITY 207 

vals, that we do not know the surnames of 

all/ said Madame. ' However was it Syo- 

menov ? ' 

And she counted one by one on her fingers 
several surnames : ' Smirnov, Antonov, Niki- 
phorov ; ' and then without the surname : 
' The bald man, in the civil service, the post 
office I think ; the one with the light brown 
hair ; the one quite grey/ And none of 
them were the one after whom Petrov was 
inquiring though they might have been. 
And so he was not discovered. 

This year nothing particular happened in 
the life of Petrov, except that his eyesight 
deteriorated and he had to take to glasses. 
At night, when the weather was fine, he went 
walking, and chose the quiet, deserted bye- 
streets for his peregrinations. But even there 
people were to be met, whom he had never 
seen before, and never would see again ; and 
the houses towered on either side in a dull 
wall, and inside they were full of persons 
utterly unknown to him, who slept, and 
talked, and quarelled : some one was dying 
behind those walls, and close to him a fresh 
human being was coming into the world, to 
be lost for a time in its ever-moving infinity, 
and then to die for ever. In order to console 
himself, Petrov would count over all his ac- 
quaintances ; and their neighbourly familiar 



2 o8 THE CITY 

faces were like a wall which separated him 
from infinity. He endeavoured to remem- 
ber all ; the porters, shop-keeper, cabmen 
that he knew, also passers-by whom he 
casually remembered ; and at first he seemed 
to know very many people, but when he be- 
gan to count them up, the number became 
terribly small : all his life long he had only 
known 250 people, including him, the other. 
And these were all who were known and 
neighbourly to him in the world. Possibly 
there were people whom he had known, and 
forgotten ; but that was just as though they 
did not exist. 

He, the other, was very glad, when he recog- 
nized Petrov the next Easter. He had a new 
dress suit on, and new boots which creaked, 
and he said as he pressed Petrov' s hand : 

' But, you know, I almost died. I was 
seized with inflammation of the lungs, and 
even now there is there ' and he tapped 
himself on the side ' something the matter 
with the upper part, I believe.' 

' I'm sorry for you/ said Petrov with sin- 
cere sympathy. 

They talked about various ailments, and 
each spoke of his own, and when they separ- 
ated they did so with a prolonged pressure of 
the hand, but they quite forgot to ask each 
other's name. The following Easter it was 



THE CITY 209 

Petrov who did not put in an appearance at 
the Vasilyevskys', and he, the other, was 
much disquieted, and inquired of Madame 
Vasilyevsky who the little hunchback was 
who visisted them. 

' I know what his surname is,' said she, 
' it is Petrov/ 

' But what are his Christian name and his 
father's ? ' 

Madame Vasilyevsky would willingly have 
told his name, but it seems she did not know 
it, and was very much surprised at the fact. 
Neither did she know in what office Petrov 
was, perhaps the post office or some bank. 

The next time he, the other, did not appear. 

The time after both came, but at different 
hours, so they did not meet. And then they 
altogether left off putting in an appearance, 
and the Vasilyevskys never saw them again, 
and did not even give them a thought ; for 
so many people visited them, and they could 
not possibly remember them all. 

The immense city grew still bigger, and 
there, where the broad fields had stretched, 
irrepressible new streets lengthened out, and 
on both sides of them stout, multi-coloured 
stone houses crushed heavily the ground on 
which they stood. And to the seven ceme- 
teries which had before existed in the city was 

added a new one, the eighth. In it there 
L.A. I4 



2io THE MARSEILLAISE 

was no greenery at all, and meanwhile they 
buried in it only paupers. 

And when the long autumn night drew 
on, it became still in the cemetery, and there 
reached it only in distant echoes the rumbling 
of the street traffic, which ceased not day nor 
night. 



THE MARSEILLAISE 

HE was a nonentity, with the soul of a hare 
and the shameless endurance of a beast of 
burden. When the malicious irony of fate 
cast his lot in among our black ranks, we 
laughed like maniacs at the thought that 
such absurd inept mistakes could actually be 
made. As for him, well he cried. And 
never have I met with a man of so many 
tears, flowing so freely from eyes and nose 
and mouth. He was like a sponge saturated 
with water, and then squeezed. In our ranks 
I have seen, indeed, men who wept, but then 
their tears were fire, from which even fierce 
wild beasts would run away. These manly 
tears aged the faces, but made the eyes young 
again. Like lava released from the red-hot 
bowels of the earth, they burnt an indelible 
track, and buried under themselves whole 
cities of worthless devices and shallow cares. 
But when this fellow began to weep, only his 
nose grew red, and his handkerchief became 

211 



212 THE MARSEILLAISE 

wet. Probably he used to hang out his 
handkerchiefs on a line to dry ; how other- 
wise could he have supplied himself with so 
many ? 

During the whole time of exile he was 
continually applying to the authorities, real 
and imaginary, bowing, and weeping, and 
swearing that he was innocent, entreating 
them to have pity upon his youth, and pro- 
mising all his life never to open his mouth 
except in petition and gratitude. But they 
laughed at him, even as did we, and called 
him ' the wretched little pig,' and would call 
out to him : 

' Piggy, come here ! ' 

And he would obediently run to their 
cell, expecting each time to hear news of his 
restoration to his native land. But they 
were only joking. They knew, as well as we 
did, that he was innocent. But they thought 
by his torments to intimidate other little pigs, 
as though they were not cowardly enough 
already. He would also come to us, impelled 
by an animal dread of solitude. But our 
faces were stern, and locked against him, and 
in vain he sought for the key. At an utter 
loss what to do, he would call us his dear 
comrades and friends. But we would shake 
our heads and say : 

' Look out ! Some one will hear you ! ' 



THE MARSEILLAISE 213 

And he was not ashamed to glance round at 
the door the little pig ! 

Well ! Could we possibly contain our- 
selves ? No, we laughed with mouths long 
accustomed to laughter. Then he, embold- 
ened and comforted, would sit down nearer 
to us, and converse, and weep about his dear 
books, which he had left upon the table, and 
about his mamma and little brothers, of 
whom he did not know whether they were 
alive or dead of fear and grief. 

Towards the end we refused to associate 
with him any longer. When the hunger- 
strike began he was seized with terror the 
most inexpressibly comical terror. He was 
evidently very fond of his stomach, poor little 
pig, and he was terribly afraid of his dear 
comrades, and also of the authorities. He 
wandered about among us in a state of per- 
turbation, continually passing his handker- 
chief over his forehead, upon which something 
had exuded was it tears or perspiration ? 
Then he asked me in an irresolute manner : 

' Shall you starve long ? ' 

' For a long time/ I sternly replied. 

' But will you not eat anything on the 
sly'? ' 

' Our mammas will send us pies/ I acqui- 
esced in all seriousness. He looked at me in 
doubt, nodded his head and went away with 



214 THE MARSEILLAISE 

a sigh. The next day, green as a paroquet 
with fear, he answered : 

' Dear comrades ! I also will starve with 
you.' 

We replied with one voice : ' Starve by 
yourself ! ' 

And he did starve ! We did not believe 
it, just as you will not believe it : we thought 
that he ate something on the sly, and so top 
thought our guards. And when towards the 
end of the strike he fell ill of famine-typhus, 
we only shrugged our shoulders and said : 

' Poor little Pig ! ' 

But one of us he who never laughed said 
grimly : ' He is our comrade, let us go to 
him.' 

He was delirious, and his incoherent rav- 
ings were as piteous as the whole of his life. 
He talked of his dear books, of his mamma 
and brothers ; he asked for tarts, cold as ice, 
tasty tarts ; and he swore that he was inno- 
cent, and begged for pardon. He called on 
his native country his dear France, and 
damn the weakness of the human heart ! 
he rent our souls with that cry of ' Dear 
France.' 

We were all in the room when he lay 
a-dying. He recovered his consciousness 
before death, and silent he lay, so small, so 
weak ; and silent stood we his comrades. 



THE MARSEILLAISE 215 

We all to a man heard him say : ' When I am 
dead sing over me the Marseillaise.' 

' What dost thou say ? ' we exclaimed, 
with a shock of mingled joy and rising anger. 

He repeated : ' When I am dead sing over 
me the Marseillaise.' 

And it happened for the first time that 
his eyes were dry, but we wept, wept one and 
all : and our tears burned like fire from which 
fierce wild-beasts do flee. 

He died, and we sang over him the Mar- 
seillaise. With lusty young voices we sang 
that great song of freedom ; and threaten- 
ingly the ocean re-echoed it to us, and the 
crests of its waves bore to his dear France pale 
terror, and blood-red hope. 

And he became ever our watchword, that 
nonentity with the body of a hare, and of a 
beast of burden but with the great soul of a 
man ! On your knees, comrades and friends ! 

We sang ! At us the rifles were aimed, 
while their locks clicked ominously, and the 
sharp points of the bayonets were menacingly 
turned towards our hearts. But ever louder 
and more joyfully resounded the threatening 
song, while the black coffin swayed in the 
tender hands of stalwarts. 

We sang the Marseillaise ! 



THE TOCSIN 



DURING that hot and ill-omened summer 
everything was burning. Whole towns, 
villages and hamlets were consumed ; forests 
and fields were no longer a protection to 
them, but even the forests themselves sub- 
missively burst into flame, and the fire 
spread like a red table-cloth over the parched 
meadows. During the day the dim red sun 
was hidden in acrid smoke, but at night-time 
in all quarters of the sky a quiet red-glow 
burst forth, which rocked in silent, fantastic 
dance ; and strange confused shadows of 
men and trees crept over the ground like 
some unknown species of reptile. The dogs 
ceased their welcoming bark, which from afar 
calls to the traveller and promises him a roof 
and hospitality, and either uttered a pro- 
longed melancholy howl, or crept into the 
cellar in sullen silence. And men, like dogs, 

217 



218 THE TOCSIN 

looked at one another with evil, frightened 
eyes, and spoke aloud of arson, and secret 
incendiaries. Indeed, in one remote village 
they had killed an old man who could not 
give a satisfactory account of his movements, 
and then the women had wept over the 
murdered man, and pitied his grey beard all 
matted with dark blood. 

During this hot and ill-omened summer I 
lived at the house of a country squire, where 
were many women, young and old. By 
day we worked and talked, and thought 
little of conflagrations, but when night came 
on we were seized with fear. The owner 
of the property was often absent in the town. 
Then for whole nights we slept not a wink, 
but in fear and trembling made our rounds 
of the homestead in search of an incendiary. 
We huddled close together and spoke in 
whispers ; but the night was still, and the 
buildings stood out in dark, unfamiliar masses. 
They seemed to us as strange, as if we had 
never seen them before, and terribly un- 
stable, as though they were expecting the 
fire and were already ripe for it. Once, 
through a crack in the wall, there gleamed 
before us something bright. It was the sky, 
but we thought it was a fire, and with screams 
the womenkind rushed to me, who was still 
almost a boy, and entreated my protection. 



THE TOCSIN 219 

But I held my breath for fear, and could 
not move a step. 

Sometimes in the depth of night I would 
rise from my hot, tumbled bed and creep 
through the window into the garden. It was 
an ancient, formal and stately garden, so 
protected that it answered the very fiercest 
storm with nothing more than a suppressed 
drone. Below it was dark and deadly still 
as at the bottom of an abyss ; but above 
there was a continual indistinct rustling and 
sound, like the far-off speech of the steppe. 
Concealing myself from some one, who seemed 
to be following at my heels, and looking over 
my shoulder, I would make my way to the 
end of the garden, where upon a high bank 
stood a wattle-fence, and beyond the fence 
far below extended fields and forests and 
hamlets hidden in the darkness. Lofty, 
gloomy, silent lime-trees opened out before 
me, and between their thick black stems, 
through the interstices of the fence, and 
through the space between the leaves I could 
see something terrible, extraordinary, which 
would fill my heart with an uneasy dread 
feeling, and make my legs twitch with a 
slight tremor. I could see the sky, not the 
dark, still sky of night, but rosy-red, such as 
is neither by day nor night. The mighty 
limes stood grave and silent, like men ex- 



220 THE TOCSIN 

pecting something, but the sky was unnatur- 
ally rosy, and the ominous reflection of the 
burning earth beneath darted in fiery red 
spasms about the sky. And curling columns 
would go slowly up and disappear in the 
height ; and it was a puzzle, as strangely 
unnatural as the pink colouring of the sky, 
how they could be so silent, when below all 
was gnashing of teeth ; how they could be 
so unhurried and stately there above, when 
everything was tossing in restless confusion 
here below. 

As though coming to themselves the lofty 
limes would all at once begin to talk together 
with their tops, and then suddenly relapse 
into silence, congealed, as it were, for a long 
time in sullen expectation. It would become 
still as at the bottom of an abyss, while far 
behind me I felt conscious of the house on the 
alert, full of frightened people ; the limes 
crowded watchfully around me, and in front 
silently rocked a rose-red sky, such as is not 
nor by night nor day. 

And because I saw it not as a whole, but 
only through the interstices between the trees, 
it was all the more terrible and incompre- 
hensible. 



II 



IT was night and I was dosing restlessly, 
when there reached my ear a dull staccato 
sound, rising as it seemed from below the 
ground ; it penetrated my brain, and settled 
there like a round stone. After it another 
forced its way in, equally short and dolorous, 
and my head became heavy and sick, as 
though molten lead were falling upon it in 
thick drops. The drops kept boring and 
burning into my brain ; they became ever 
more and more, and soon they were filling 
my head with a dripping rain of impetuous 
staccato sounds. 

' Boom ! boom ! boom ! ' Some one tall, 
strong and impatient kept jerking out from 
afar. 

I opened my eyes, and at once understood 
that it was the alarm-bell, and that Slobodi- 
shtchy, the next village, was on fire. It was 
dark in the room and the window was closed, 
and yet at the terrible call the whole room, 

221 



222 THE TOCSIN 

with its furniture, pictures and flowers, went 
out, as it were, into the street, and no longer 
was one conscious of wall or ceiling. 

I do not remember how I got dressed, and 
know not why I ran on alone and not with 
the others ; whether it was that they forgot 
me, or I did not remember their existence. 
The tocsin called persistently and dully, as 
though its sounds were falling, not from the 
transparent air, but were cast forth from the 
immeasurable thickness of the earth. I ran 
on. 

Amid the rosy sheen of the sky the stars 
twinkled above my head, and in the garden 
it was strangely light, such as is neither by 
day, nor by majestic, moon-lit night, but 
when I reached the hedge something bright- 
red, seething, tossing desperately, looked 
up at me through the fissures. The lofty 
limes, as though sprinkled with blood, trem- 
bled in their rounded leaves, and turned 
them back in fear, but their sound was 
inaudible on account of the short, loud strokes 
of the swinging bell. Now the sounds became 
clear and distinct, and flew with mad speed 
like a swarm of red-hot stones. They did 
not circle in the air like the doves of the 
peaceful angelus, neither did they expand 
in the caressing waves of the solemn call to 
prayer ; they flew straight like grim har- 



THE TOCSIN 223 

bingers of woe, who have no time to glance 
backward and whose eyes are wide with 
terror. 

' Boom ! boom ! boom ! ' they flew with 
unrestrainable impetuosity, the strong over- 
taking the weak, and all of them together 
delving into the earth and piercing the 
sky. 

And, as straight as they, I ran over the 
immense tilled plain, which faintly scintil- 
lated with blood-red gleams like the scales of 
a great black wild-beast. Above my head, 
at a wonderful height, bright isolated sparks 
floated by, and in front was one of those 
terrible village conflagrations, in which in one 
holocaust perish houses, cattle and human 
beings. There behind the irregular line of 
dark trees now round, now sharp as pikes, 
the dazzling flame soared aloft, arched its 
neck proudly, like a maddened horse, leaped, 
threw burning flocks from its midst into the 
black sky, and then greedily stooped for 
fresh prey. The blood surged in my ears 
with the swiftness of my running, and my 
heart beat loud and rapidly ; but the irre- 
gular strokes of the tocsin overtook my 
heart-beats and struck me full on head and 
breast. And so full of despair was it that 
it seemed not the clanging of a metal bell, 
but as though the very heart of the much- 



224 THE TOCSIN 

suffering earth were beating wildly in the 
agony of death. 

' Boom ! boom ! boom ! ' the red-hot con- 
flagration ejaculated. And it was difficult 
to realize that the church belfry, so small 
and slight, so peaceful and still, like a maiden 
in a pink dress, could be giving forth those 
loud, despairing cries. 

I kept falling down on my hands against 
clods of dry earth, which scattered beneath 
them, and again I would rise and run on, 
and the fire and the summoning sound of 
the bell ran to meet me. One could already 
hear the wood crackling as it caught fire, 
and the many-voiced cry of human beings 
with the dominating notes of despair and 
terror. And when the serpent-like hissing 
of the fire ceased for a moment, a prolonged 
groaning became clearly differentiated : it 
was the wailing of women, and the bellowing 
of cattle in a panic of terror. 

A swamp intercepted my path. A wide, 
weed-grown swamp, which ran far to right 
and left. I went into the water up to my 
knees, then to the breast, but the swamp 
began to suck me down, and I returned to the 
bank. Opposite, quite close, raged the fire, 
throwing up into the sky golden sparks like 
the burning leaves of a gigantic tree : while 
the water of the swamp stood out like a 



THE TOCSIN 225 

mirror sparkling with fire in a black frame of 
reed and sedge. The tocsin called, despair- 
ingly in deadly agony : 
' Come ! do come ! ' 



L.A. 225 15 



Ill 

I FLUNG along the strand, and my dark 
shadow flung after me, and when I stooped 
down to the water to find a bottom, the 
spectre of a fire-red form gazed at me from 
the black abyss, and in the distorted linea- 
ments of its face, and in its dishevelled hair, 
which seemed as though it were lifted up 
upon the head by some terrific force, I failed 
to recognize myself. 

' Ah ! what is it ? O Lord ! ' I prayed 
with outstretched hands. 

But the tocsin kept calling. The bell no 
longer entreated, it shouted like a human 
being, and groaned and choked. The strokes 
had lost their regularity, and piled them- 
selves one on the top of the other, rapidly 
and without echo ; they died down, were 
reproduced and again died down. Once more 
I bent down to the water, and alongside of 
my own reflexion I perceived another fiery 
spectre, tall and erect, and to my horror just 
like a human being. 

226 



THE TOCSIN 227 

' Who's that ? ' I screamed, looking round. 
Close to my shoulder stood a man looking at 
the conflagration in silence. His face was 
pale, his cheeks were covered with still moist 
blood, which gleamed as it reflected the fire. 
He was dressed simply, like a peasant. Pos- 
sibly he had been already here when I ran 
up, and had been stopped like myself by the 
swamp, or possibly he may have arrived 
after me ; but at all events I had not heard 
his approach, nor did I know who he was. 

' It burns,' said he, without removing his 
eyes from the fire. The reflected fire leapt 
in them, and they seemed large and glassy. 

' Who are you ? Where do you come 
from ? ' I asked ; ' you are all bloody.' 
With long, thin fingers he touched my 
cheeks, looked at them, and again fixed his 
gaze upon the fire. 

' It burns,' he repeated, without paying 
any attention to me. ' Everything is burn- 
ing.' 

' Do you know how to get there ? ' I asked, 
drawing back. I guessed that this was one 
of the many maniacs, which this ill-omened 
summer had produced. 

' It burns ! ' he replied ; ' ho ! ho ! don't 
it burn ! ' he cried, laughing, and looked at 
me kindly, wagging his head. The hurried 
strokes of the tocsin suddenly stopped, and 



228 THE TOCSIN 

the flame crackled louder. It moved like 
a living thing, and with long arms, as though 
weary, dragged itself to the silent belfry, 
which now seemed near and tall, and clothed 
no longer in pink but in red. Above the 
dark loop-hole, where the bells were hung, 
there appeared a timid quiet tongue of fire, 
like the flame of a candle, and was reflected 
in pale rays on their metal surface. Once 
more the bell began to tremble, sending forth 
its last madly-despairing cries, and once 
more I flung myself along the shore, and my 
black shadow flung after me. 

' I'm coming, I'm coming ! ' I cried, as 
though in reply to some one calling me. 
But the tall man was quietly seated behind 
me, embracing his knees, and kept singing a 
loud secondo to the bell : ' Boom ! boom ! 
boom ! ' 

' Are you mad ? ' I shouted to him. But 
he only sang the louder and the merrier, 
1 Boom ! boom ! boom ! ' 

' Be quiet ! ' I entreated. But he smiled 
and sang on, wagging his head, and the fire 
flared up in his glassy eyes. He was more 
terrible than the fire, this maniac, and I 
turned round and took to flight along the 
shore. But I had scarcely gone a few steps, 
when his lanky figure appeared silently 
alongside of me, his shirt fluttering in the 



THE TOCSIN 229 

wind. He ran in silence, even as I did, with 
long untiring strides, and in silence our black 
shadows ran along the upturned field. 

The bell was suffocating in its last death- 
struggle and cried out like a human being 
who, despairing of assistance, has lost all 
hope. And we ran on in silence aimlessly 
into the darkness, and close to us our black 
shadows leapt mockingly. 



BARGAMOT AND GARASKA 

IT would be unjust to say that Nature had 
injured Ivan Akindinich Bargamotov, who 
in his official capacity was called ' Constable 
No. 20,' and unofficially simply Bargamotov. 
The inhabitants of one of the outskirts of 
the provincial towns of Orel, who in their 
turn were nicknamed ' gunners/ from the 
name of their abode (Gunner Street) and, 
from the moral side were characterized as 
' broken-headed gunners,' when they dubbed 
Ivan Akindinovich ' Bargamot,' were with- 
out doubt not thinking of the qualities which 
belong to such a delicate and delicious fruit 
as the fyergamot. By his exterior Bargamot 
reminded one rather of the mastodon, or 
of any of those engaging, but extinct crea- 
tures, which for want of room have long 
ago deserted a world already filling up with 
flaccid little humans. Tall, stout, strong, 
loud-voiced Bargamot loomed big on the 
police horizon, and certainly would long ago 

231 



232 BARGAMOT AND GARASKA 

have attained notable rank, if only his soul, 
compressed within those stout walls, had 
not been sunk in an heroic sleep. 

Outward impressions in passing to Bar- 
gamot's soul by means of his little iat- 
encased eyes, lost all their sharpness and 
force, and arrived at their destination only 
in the form of feeble echoes and reflexions. 
A person of sublime requirements would have 
called him a lump of flesh ; his superior 
officers called him a ' stock/ but a useful 
one while to the ' gunners,' the persons 
most interested in this question, he was a 
staid, serious matter-of-fact man, one worthy 
of every respect and consideration. What 
Bargamot knew he knew well, were it only a 
policeman's instructions, which he had assimi- 
lated some time or other with all the energy 
of his mighty frame, and which had sunk so 
deep into his sluggish brain, that it would 
have been impossible to rout them out again, 
even with vitriol. Nevertheless certain 
truths occupied a permanent position in his 
soul, truths acquired by way of life's experi- 
ence, and unconditionally dominating the 
situation. 

Of that which Bargamot did not know he 
kept such an imperturbably stolid silence, 
that people who did know it became some- 
how or other somewhat ashamed of their 



BARGAMOT AND GARASKA 233 

knowledge. But the chief point was this 
that Bargamot was enormously powerful ; 
and might was right in Gunner Street, a 
slum inhabited by shoemakers, tailors who 
worked at home, and the representatives of 
other ' liberal ' professions. Owning two 
public houses, uproarious on Sundays and 
Mondays, Gunner Street devoted all its 
leisure hours to Homeric fights, in which the 
women, bare-headed and dishevelled, took 
immediate part (as they separated their 
husbands), and also the little children, who 
gazed with delight on the daring of their 
papas. 

All this rough wave of drunken ' gunners ' 
beat against the immovable Bargamot as 
against a stone breakwater, while he would 
deliberately seize with his mighty hands a 
pair of the most desperate rowdies and 
personally conduct them to the ' lock up/ 
and the rowdies would obediently submit 
their fate to the hands of Bargamot, pro- 
testing merely for the sake of appearances. 

Such was Bargamot in the domain of 
international relations. In the sphere of 
home politics he held himself with no less 
dignity. The small tumble-down cottage, 
in which Bargamot lived with his wife and 
two young children, and which with difficulty 
afforded room for his mighty body, and 



234 BARGAMOT AND GARASKA 

trembled with craziness and with fear for its 
own existence whenever Bargamot turned 
round, might be at ease, if not with regard 
to its own wooden structure, at all events 
in respect of the family unity. 

Domestic, careful, and fond of digging in 
his garden on free days, Bargamot was severe. 
He instructed his wife and children through 
the same medium of physical influence, not 
conforming so much to the actual require- 
ments of science as to certain indefinite pre- 
scriptions on that score which existed in the 
ramifications of his big head. This did not 
prevent his wife Marya, who was still a young 
and handsome woman, on the one hand from 
respecting her husband as a steady, sober 
man, and on the other, in spite of all his 
massiveness, from twisting him round her 
finger with that ease and force of which only 
weak women are capable. 

At about ten o'clock on a warm spring 
evening Bargamot stood at his usual post 
at the corner of Gunner Street and the 3rd 
Garden Street. He was in a bad humour. 
To-morrow was Easter Day, and soon people 
would be going to church, while he would 
have to stand on duty till 3 o'clock in the 
morning, and would only get home in time 
for the conclusion of the fast. Bargamot 
did not feel any need of prayer, but the bright 



kARGAMOT AND GARASKA 235 

holiday air which permeated the unusually 
peaceful and quiet street affected even him. 

He did not like the spot on which he had 
stood still every day for a matter of ten years. 
He felt a desire to do something of a holiday 
character such as others were doing. And in 
view of these uneasy feelings there arose with- 
in him a certain discontent and impatience. 
Moreover he was hungry. His wife had 
given him no dinner at all that day, and 
so he had had to put up with a few sups of 
kvass and bread. His great stomach was 
insistently demanding food ; and how long 
it was still to the conclusion of the fast ! 

Ptu ! spat Bargamot, as he made a cigar- 
ette and began reluctantly to suck at it. At 
home he had some good cigarettes, presented 
to him by a local shop-keeper, but he was 
reserving them till the conclusion of the fast. 

Soon the ' gunners ' drew along towards 
the church, clean and respectable in jackets 
and waistcoats over red and blue flannel 
shirts, and in long boots with innumerable 
creases, and high pointed heels. To-morrow 
all this splendour was destined to disappear 
behind the counter of the ' pub/ or to be torn 
in pieces in a friendly struggle for harmony. 

But for to-day the ' gunners ' were re- 
splendent. Each one carefully carried a 
parcel of paschal cakes. None took any 



236 BARGAMOT AND GARASKA 

notice of Bargamot, neither did he look with 
especial love on his ' god-children/ and un- 
easily prognosticated how many times he 
would have to make a journey to-morrow 
to the police station. 

In fact, he was jealous that they were free 
and could go where it was bright, noisy 
and cheerful, while he was stuck there like 
a penitent. 

' Here I have to stand because of you, 
drunkards/ muttered he, summing up his 
thoughts, and spat once more he felt a 
hollow in the pit of his stomach. 

The street was becoming empty. The 
Eucharistic bell had ceased. Then the joyful 
changes of the treble peal, so cheerful after 
the melancholy tolling of the Lenten bells, 
spread over the world the joyful news of 
Christ's resurrection. Bargamot took off his 
hat and crossed himself. Soon he would be 
going home. He became more cheerful as 
he imagined to himself the table laid with a 
clean cloth, the paschal cakes and the eggs. 
He would without hurry give to all the 
Easter salutation. They would wake up 
Jack and bring him in, and he would at once 
demand the coloured egg, about which he 
had held circumstantial conversations the 
whole week through with his more experi- 
enced little sister. Oh, how he'll open wide 



BARGAMOT AND GARASKA 237 

his mouth when his father brings him, not 
the bright dyed egg, but the real marble one, 
which the same obliging shop-keeper had 
presented to Bargamot ! 

' Dear little chap ! ' said Bargamot with 
a smile, feeling a sort of paternal tenderness 
welling up from the depths of his soul. 

But Bargamot's placidity was broken in 
on in the most abject manner. Round the 
corner were heard uneven footsteps and low 
mutterings. 

' Who the devil is coming here ? ' thought 
Bargamot, looking round the corner and 
feeling injured in his very soul. 

' Garaska ! Yes, drunk as usual ! Well, 
that's a finisher ! ' 

It was a mystery to Bargamot how Garaska 
could have managed to get drunk before 
daylight, but of the fact of his drunkenness 
there was no doubt. His behaviour, mysteri- 
ous as it would have been to an outsider, was 
perfectly clear to Bargamot, who was well 
acquainted with the ' Gunner ' soul in general, 
and with the low nature of Garaska in par- 
ticular. Attracted by an irresistible force 
from the middle of the street, in which he 
had the habit of walking, he was pressed 
close to the hoarding. Supporting himself 
with both hands, and contemplating the wall 
with a concentrated air of inquiry, Garaska 



238 BARGAMOT AND GARASKA 

staggered, while he gathered up his strength 
for a fresh struggle with any unexpected 
impediments he might meet with. 

After a short but intense meditation he 
pushed himself energetically from the wall, 
and staggered backwards into the middle of 
the street, made a deliberate turn, and set 
out with long strides into space, which turned 
out to be not quite so endless as it has been 
said to be, but was in fact bounded by a mass 
of lamps. 

With the first of these, Garaska came into 
the closest relations, and clasped it in the 
firm embrace of friendship. 

' A lamp ! Stop ! ' said he curtly, as he 
established the accomplished fact. Quite 
unusually, of course, Garaska was in an 
excessively good humour. Instead of heap- 
ing well-deserved objurgations upon the lamp- 
post he turned to it with mild reproaches, 
with contained some touches of familiarity. 

' Stand still, you silly ass, where are you 
going to ? ' he muttered as he staggered 
away from the lamp-post, and again fell 
with his whole chest upon it, almost flattening 
his nose against its cold damp surface. 

' That's right ! eh ? ' and by clinging with 
half his length along the post he managed 
to hold on, and sank into a reverie. 

Bargamot contemptuously compressed his 



BARGAMOT AND GARASKA 239 

lips, as he looked down on Garaska from his 
superior height. Nobody annoyed him so 
much in the whole of Gunner Street as this 
wretched toper. To look at him one would 
not have thought there was any strength in 
him, and yet he was the greatest scandal in 
the whole neighbourhood. 

He's not a man, but an ulcer ! A ' gunner ' 
gets drunk, makes a disturbance, spends the 
night in the lock-up, and he gets over all 
this like a gentleman but Garaska always 
does it stealthily, and of malice prepense. 
He may be beaten half to death or nearly 
starved at the police station, still they can 
never break him of bad language, of his most 
offensively foul tongue. 

He will stand under the windows of any 
of the most respectable people in Gunner 
Street, and begin to swear without rhyme 
or reason. The shopmen seize Garaska and 
beat him the crowd laughs and advises 
them to give it him hot. Garaska would 
revile even Bargamot himself in such fan- 
tastically realistic language, that without 
understanding all the subtleties of his wit, 
he felt himself more insulted, than if he had 
been whipped. 

How Garaska got his living, remained to 
the ' gunners ' one of those mysteries which 
enveloped his whole existence. Certainly 



240 BARGAMOT AND GARASKA 

no one had ever seen him sober. He lived, 
or rather camped about in the orchards, or 
the river-bank, or under shrubs. In winter 
he disappeared to somewhere or other, and 
with the first breath of spring he reappeared. 
What attracted him to Gunner Street, where 
it was every one's business to beat him, was 
again a profound mystery of Garaska's soul, 
but get rid of him they could not. They 
strongly suspected, and that not without 
reason, that he was a thief, but they could 
not take him in the act, so he was beaten on 
merely circumstantial evidence. 

On this occasion Garaska had evidently 
a difficult path to negotiate. The rags, which 
made a pretence of seriously covering his 
emaciated body, were all over still undried 
mud. 

His face, with its big, bulbous red nose, 
which was incontestably one of the causes 
of his unstable equilibrium, was covered 
with an irregularly distributed watery growth, 
and gave substantial evidence of its close 
relations with alcohol and a neighbour's 
fist. On his cheek near the eye was a scratch 
of evidently recent origin. 

He succeeded at last in parting company 
with the lamp-post, and when he observed 
the dignified silent figure of Bargamot he 
was overjoyed. 



BARGAMOT AND GARASKA 241 

' Our best respects to you, Bargamot Bar- 
gamotich we hope we see you well ! ' said 
he with a polite wave of the hand, but he 
staggered, and was fain to prop himself up 
with his back against the lamp-post. 

' Where are you going to ? ' growled Bar- 
gamot saturninely. 

' We're orl righ' ! ' 

' On the old lay, eh ? Or do you want a 
doss in the cells. You wretch, I'll run you 
in at once.' 

' No, you don't ! ' 

Garaska was just going to make a gesture 
of defiance, when he wisely restrained himself, 
spat and rubbed his foot about on the ground 
as though to rub out the spittle. 

' You can talk when you get to the police 
station ! March ! ' 

Bargamot 's mighty hand stretched out to 
Garaska's collar, so greasy in fact that it 
was evident that Bargamot was not his first 
guide on the thorny path of well-doing. 
Giving the drunken man a slight shake, and 
propelling his body in the required direction, 
and at the same time giving it a certain 
stability, Bargamot dragged him towards 
the above-mentioned gaol, just as a strong 
hawser might tow after it a very light schooner, 
which had met with an accident outside the 
harbour. He considered himself deeply in- 



242 BARGAMOT AND GARASKA 

jured, instead of enjoying his well-earned 
rest, to have to drag himself with this drunk- 
ard to the station. 

Ugh ! Bargamot 's hands itched but the 
consciousness that on such a high festival it 
would be unseemly to let them have their 
way, restrained him. Garaska strode on 
bravely, mingling in a remarkable manner 
self-confidence, and even insolence, with meek- 
ness. He evidently harboured some thought 
of his own, which he began to approach by 
the Socratic method. 

' Tell me, Mr. Policeman, what is to- 
day ?' 

1 Won't you shut up ! ' Bargamot replied 
in contempt. ' Drunk before daylight ! ' 

' Has the bell at Michael the Archangel's 
rung yet ? ' 

' Yes, what's that to you ? ' 

* Then Christ is risen ! ' 

' Well, He is risen.' 

' Then allow me ' Garaska was carry- 
ing on this conversation half twisted towards 
Bargamot, and with his face resolutely turned 
to him. Bargamot, interested by the strange 
questions, mechanically let go the greasy 
collar. Garaska, losing his support, stag- 
gered and fell before he could show to Barga- 
mot an object which he had just taken out 
of his pocket. Raising his great shoulders, 



BARGAMOT AND GARASKA 243 

as he supported himself on his hands, Garaska 
looked on the ground, then fell face down- 
wards, and began to wail, as a peasant woman 
wails for the dead. 

Garaska howling ! Bargamot was sur- 
prised, but deciding that it must be some 
new joke of his, he still felt interested as to 
developments. The development was that 
Garaska continued howling without words, 
just like a dog. 

' What's up now ? Off your nut, eh ? ' 
said Bargamot as he gave him a shove with 
his foot. He went on howling. Bargamot 
was in a dilemma. 

' What's got yer, eh ? ' 

' The eg g.' 

' Well ? ' 

Garaska went on howling, but less noisily, 
he sat down and lifted up his hand. The 
hand was covered with something sticky, 
to which adhered pieces of coloured egg-shell. 
Bargamot still in doubt, began to have an 
inkling that something untoward had taken 
place. 

' I like a gentleman to present 

Easter egg but you ' blubbered 

Garaska disconnectedly ; but Bargamot 
understood. 

It was evident what had been Garaska's 
intention. He wished to present him with an 



244 BARGAMOT AND GARASKA 

Easter egg according to Christian usage, 
and Bargamot was for taking him to gaol. 
Perhaps he had brought the egg a long way, 
and now it was broken and he was crying. 
Bargamot imagined to himself that the 
marble egg he was keeping for Jack was 
broken, and how sorry it made him. 

' 'Ere's a go ! ' said Bargamot shaking his 
head, as he looked at the wallowing drunkard, 
and pitied him as intensely as he would have 
pitied a man cruelly wronged by his own 
brother. 

' He was going to present ' ' He is 

also a living soul/ muttered the policeman, 
striving albeit clumsily to render the state 
of affairs clear to himself, and feeling a mix- 
ture of shame and pity, which became more 
and more oppressive. 

' And you would have run him in ! Shame 
on you ! ' 

Sighing heavily as he bent down he knocked 
his short sword against a stone, and sat down 
on his heels near to Garaska. 

' Well,' he muttered in confusion, ' perhaps 
it is not broken/ 

' Not broken ! Why yer was ready to 
break my snout for me. Brute ! ' 

' But what did you shove for ! ' 

' What for mimicked Garaska. ' I 

was going like a gentleman to and him 



BARGAMOT AND GARASKA 245 

to the lock up. Think that's my last 

egg ? Yer lump ! ' 

Bargamot sniffed. He did not feel in the 
least hurt by Garaska's abuse ; through his 
whole ill-organized interior he felt a sort of 
half pity, half shame, while in the remotest 
depths of his stout body something kept 
tiresomely wimbling and torturing. 

' Can one help giving you a thrashing ? ' 
said Bargamot, more to himself than to 
Garaska. 

' Not you, you garden scarecrow ! Now 
look 'ere/ 

Garaska was evidently falling into his 
usual groove. In his somewhat clearing 
brain he was picturing to himself a whole 
perspective of the most compromising terms 
of abuse, and most insulting epithets, when 
Bargamot cleared his throat with a sound 
which left not the slightest doubt as to the 
firmness of his determination and declared: 

' We'll go to my house, and break the fast.' 

' What ! go to your house, you tubby devil ! ' 

' Let's go, I say.' 

Garaska's surprise was boundless. Quite 
passively he allowed himself to be lifted up 
and led by the hand, and he went but 
whither ? Not to the lock-up, but to the 
house of Bargamot himself actually to eat 
his Easter breakfast there ! A seductive 



246 BARGAMOT AND GARASKA 

thought came into his head to give Barga- 
mot the slip, but though his head had become 
cleared by the very unusualness of the situa- 
tion his feet still remained in such evil case, 
that they seemed sworn to perpetually cling 
to one another, and to prevent each other 
from walking. 

Then, too, Bargamot was such a wonder 
that Garaska, truth to tell, did not want to 
get away. 

Bargamot, twisting his tongue, and search- 
ing for words and stuttering, now propounded 
to him the instructions for a policeman, 
and now reverting to the special question 
of thrashing, and the lock-up, deciding in his 
own mind in the positive, and at the same 
time in the negative. 

' You say truly, Ivan Akindinich, we must 
be beaten,' acknowledged Garaska, feeling 
even a sort of awkwardness. Bargamot was 
a sore wonder ! 

' No, I don't mean to do that,' mumbled 
Bargamot, evidently understanding, even less 
than Garaska, what his woolly tongue was 
babbling. 

They arrived at last at Bargamot's house 
and Garaska had already ceased to wonder. 
Marya at first opened her eyes wide at the 
sight of the unwonted couple, but she guessed 
from her husband's perturbed look, that 



BARGAMOT AND GARASKA 247 

there was no room for objections, and in her 
womanly kindheartedness quickly understood 
what she was expected to do. 

Quieted and confused, Garaska sat down 
at the decorated table. He felt ashamed 
enough to sink into the ground. Ashamed 
of his rags, of his dirty hands, ashamed of 
his whole self, torn, drunken, disgusting as 
he was. Scalding himself with the deuced 
hot soup, swimming with fat, he spilt it on 
the table-cloth, and although the hostess 
with delicacy pretended not to have noticed 
it, he grew confused and spilt still more. So 
unbearably did those shrivelled fingers tremble 
with those great dirty nails, which Garaska 
now noticed for the first time. 

* Ivan Akindinich, what surprise have you 
for Jacky ? ' asked Marya. 

' Never mind later on/ hurriedly replied 

Bargamot. He was scalding himself with the 
soup, blew on his spoon, and stolidly wiped 
his moustache but through all this solidity 
the same amazement was apparent, as in the 
case of Garaska. 

Marya hospitably pressed her guest to eat. 

' Garasim,' she said, ' how are you called 
after your father's name ? ' 

' Andreich.' 

' Welcome, Garasim Andreich/ 

Garaska, in endeavouring to swallow, 



248 BARGAMOT AND GARASKA 

choked, and throwing down his spoon, dropped 
his head on the table, right on the greasy 
spot which he had just made. From his 
breast there escaped again that rough, pite- 
ous howl, which had before so disturbed 
Bargamot. 

The children, who had almost left off 
taking any notice of the guest, dropped their 
spoons and joined their treble to his tenor. 
Bargamot looked at his wife with a troubled 
and woeful expression. 

' Now, what's the matter with you, Garasim 
Andreich. Leave off/ said she, trying to 
quiet the perturbed guest. 

' By my father's name ! Since I was born 
no one ever called me so ! ' 



"MEN MAY RISE ON STEPPING- 
STONES OF THEIR DEAD SELVES 
TO HIGHER THINGS " 

HAVE you ever happened to walk in a burial- 
ground ? 

Those little walled-in, quiet corners, over- 
grown with luscious grass, so small, and yet 
so ravenous, possess a peculiar dolorous 
poetry all their own. 

Day after day thither are borne new corpses, 
a whole, immense, living, noisy city has been 
already borne thither one by one, and lo ! 
the new city which has grown in its place is 
awaiting its turn and the little corners 
remain ever the same, small, still, ravenous. 

The peculiar air in them, the peculiar 
silence, and the lisping of the trees different 
there to anywhere else, are all mournful, 
pensive, tender. It is as though those white 
birches could not forget all those weeping 
eyes, which have sought the sky betwixt 
their green branches, and as though it were 

249 



250 STEPPING-STONES 

no wind, but deep sighs which keep swaying 
the air and the fresh leaves. 

You, too, wander about the graveyard 
silent and pensive. Your ear is conscious 
of the gentle echoes of deep groans and tears, 
while your eyes rest on rich monuments, and 
modest wooden crosses ; and the unmarked 
tombs of strangers, covering their dead, who 
were strangers when living, unmarked, un- 
observed. And you read the inscriptions 
on the monuments, and all these people who 
have disappeared from the world rise up 
in your imagination. You see them young, 
laughing, loving ; you see them hale, loqua- 
cious, insolently confident in the endlessness 
of life. 

And they are dead. 

***** 

But is it necessary to go out of one's house 
to visit a burial ground ? Is it not sufficient 
for this purpose, that the darkness of night 
should envelop you, and have swallowed up 
all the sounds of day ? 

How many rich and sumptuous monu- 
ments ! How many unmarked graves of 
strangers ! 

But is night needful in order to visit a 
graveyard ? Is not daytime enough rest- 
less, noisy day, sufficient unto which is the 
evil thereof ? 



STEPPING-STONES 251 

Look into your own soul, and then, be it 
day or night, you will find there a burial 
ground. Small greedy, having devoured so 
much ! And a gentle, sorrowful, whisper 
will ye hear, an echo of bygone heavy groans 
when the dead was dear, whom ye left in the 
tomb, and could not forget nor cease to love. 
And monuments ye will see, and inscriptions 
half blotted out with tears ; and still, ob- 
scure, little tombs ; small and ominous 
mounds, under which is hidden something 
which once was living, although ye knew not 
its life, nor remarked its death. But, may- 
be, it was the very best in your soul . 

But why talk about it ? Look for your- 
selves. And have you not indeed thus looked 
into your burial-ground every day, every 
single day of the long, weary year ? Maybe 
as late as yesterday you recalled the dear 
departed, and wept over them. Maybe only 
yesterday you buried some one who had 
long been seriously ill, and had been forgotten 
even in life. 

Lo ! under the heavy marble surrounded 
by iron rails rests Love of mankind, and her 
sister Faith in them. How beautiful were 
they, and wondrous kind these sisters. What 
bright light burned in their eyes, what strange 
power was wielded by their tender, white 
hands ! 



252 STEPPING-STONES 

With what a caress did those white hands 
bring the cold drink to lips burning with 
thirst, and did feed the hungry. With what 
gentle care did they touch the sores of the 
sick, and healed them ! 

And they are dead, these sisters. They 
died of cold, as is said on the monument. 
They could not bear the icy wind in which 
life enveloped them. 

And there, further on, a slanting cross 
marks the place where a Talent is buried in 
the earth. How bold it was, how noisy, how 
happy ! It undertook anything, wished to 
do everything, and was confident that it 
could conquer the world. 

And it is dead died but lately, quietly, 
and unnoticed. One day it went among men, 
for long it was lost there, and it came back 
defeated, sad. Long it wept, long it strove 
to say something, and then without having 
said it died. 

And here is a long row of little sunken 
mounds. Who lies here ? 

Ah ! yes. These are children. Little, keen, 
sportive Hopes. There were so many of 
them, they were so merry, and the soul was 
peopled with them. But one by one they 
died. They were so many, and they made 
such merriment in the soul. 



STEPPING-STONES 253 

It is quiet in the resting-place, and the 

leaves of the white birches rustle sadly. 
* * * * * 

But let the dead arise ! Ye grim tombs 
ope wide, crumble to dust ye heavy monu- 
ments, ye iron bars give place ! 

Be it but for one day, for one moment, 
give freedom to those whom ye are smother- 
ing with your weight, and darkness ! 

Ye think they are dead ! Oh, no ! they 
live ! They are silent, but they live. 

They live ! 

Let them see the shining of the blue, cloud- 
less sky, let them breathe the pure air of 
spring, let them be intoxicated with warmth 
and love. 

Come to me my Talent that fell asleep. 
Why dost so drolly rub thine eyes. Does 
the sun blind thee ? Does it not shine bright 
indeed ? Thou laughest ? Oh laugh, laugh 
on there is so little of laughter among man- 
kind. I too will laugh with thee. Look ! 
there flies a swallow let us fly after it ! 
Has the tomb made thee too heavy ? And 
what is that strange horror I see in thine 
eyes like a reflection of the darkness of the 
tomb ? No, no, don't ! Don't cry. Don't 
cry, I say ! 

So glorious, indeed, is life for the risen ! 

And ye my dear little Hopes ! What 



254 STEPPING-STONES 

charming laughing faces are yours ! Who 
art thou, stout, funny little cherub ? I know 
thee not. And wherefore laughest thou ? 
Has the tomb itself been unable to afright 
thee ? Gently, my children, gently ! Why 
dost insult it see'st not how little, pale and 
weak it is become ? Live ye in the world 
and do not worry me. Do ye not see that I, 
too, have been in the tomb, and now my 
head is giddy with the sun, and the air, and 
gladness. 

Ah ! how glorious is life for the risen ! 

Come to me, ye lovely, majestic Sisters. 
Let me kiss your gentle white hands. What 
do I see ? Is it bread ye are carrying ? Did 
not the darkness of the tomb terrify you 
so tender, womanly and weak ; under the 
whelming mass did ye still think of bread 
for the hungry ? Let me kiss your feet. I 
know where they will soon be going, your 
light, swift little feet. And I know that 
wherever they pass by flowers will spring up 
wondrous, sweet-smelling flowers. Ye call. 
We will come, then. 

Hither ! my risen Talent why stand gaz- 
ing at the fleeting clouds. Hither ! my little 
sportive Hopes. 

Stop! 

I hear music. Don't shout so, cherub. 
Whence these wondrous sounds ? Gentle, 



STEPPING-STONES 255 

melodious, madly joyful, and sad, they speak 

of life eternal- 
Nay, be ye not afraid. This will soon pass 

away. I weep, indeed, for joy ! 
Ah ! how glorious is life for the risen ! 



THE END. 



Printed in Great Britain by Butler & Tanner, Frome and London 



CA 



University of California 

SOUTHERN REGIONAL LIBRARY FACILITY 

305 Oe Neve Drive - Parking Lot 17 Box 951388 

LOS ANGELES, CALIFORNIA 90095-1388 

Return this material to the library from which it was borrowed. 



1 



gCLA-Cfl e UbfWV 

P63452W5L95 







L 005 653 246 8 



College 
Library 



PG 



A25L95 



UC SOUTHERN REGIONAL LIBRARY FACILITY 



A 001 141 663 3